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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Apple bobs up from murky techs

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it's going to be a long time until investors need another check up. Apple shares surged in lackluster trading at midday Thursday. The Nasdaq slipped 16.36 to 2,784.91 and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.65 to 10,206.51.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index sank 1 to 331.68.

On the economic front, first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell to 285,000 for the week ended Oct. 9 from 314,000 in the prior week, well below Wall Streets' forecast for 300,000. Results suggested that the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd no longer appeared to be causing new unemployment claims. Retail sales figures for September also came in, showing car sales dropped off as overall retail sales rose 0.1 percent to $253.43 billion, the Commerce Department said.

Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) shares surged 12 percent Thursday after the company issued a bullish outlook for its fiscal first quarter and analysts responded with upgrades. The stock was up 6 19/32 to 70 5/8.

Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) rose 13/16 to 52 1/8 as it joined the groups of PC makers rushing to embrace a new look, unveiling an all-in-one PC priced at $799. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) sank 1/8 to 104 15/16 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dropped 1 to 88 3/8, while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) shed 3/16 to 44 1/4. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) slipped 3/16 to 22 3/16.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), down 9/16 to 71 9/16, is branching out into cellular chips with its acquisition of DSP Communications, Inc. (NYSE: DSP), up 7 1/8 to 35 1/8, for $36 a share in an all-cash tender offer valued at around $1.6 billion.

Chip equipment maker KLA-Tencor (Nasdaq: KLAC), up 1/2 to 74 7/16, delivered the latest round of good news for the sector Thursday with fiscal first quarter earnings of 38 cents a share. The results beat First Call estimates by a nickel.

About.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: BOUT) posted a third quarter net loss of $1.04, beating the loss of $1.27 of a share expected by First Call. Revenue was strong for the quarter and shares rose 1 5/8 to 51 3/8.

Media Metrix (Nasdaq: MMXI), down 4 1/2 to 53 1/2, or 8 percent beat estimates Thursday with a third quarter loss of $1.3 million, or 8 cents a share, excluding amortization as revenue jumped 29 percent from the second quarter. First Call consensus called for a loss of 17 cents a share.

Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN) fell 3 13/16 to 68 7/16 after it filed suit against Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), down 13/16 to 90 1/4 Wednesday, saying the company's Expedia.com travel site has launched a "copycat hotel service" that violates Priceline patents.

Computer services supplier Unisys Corp., down 12 1/4 to 30, or 29 percent, posted better-than- expected profits in the third-quarter due to continued financial restructuring moves but reported revenue growth was slight.

Redback Networks (Nasdaq: RBAK), a supplier of subscriber management systems, also took a fall, down 11 1/16 to 124 after it reported a loss in the third-quarter.

Two new tech issues sidled up to the plate for their IPOs Thursday, but may face a tough audience. Netcentives (Nasdaq: NCNT) made moderate gains, rising 1 5/16 to 13 5/16, or 10 percent, and iGo Corp. (Nasdaq: IGOC) had yet to test the IPO waters.