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MIDDAY MARKETS: Economic data depresses techs

Interest rate worries weighed techs down again at midday Thursday, as more economic data made the glass on inflation look half empty. The Nasdaq fell 18.29 to 2,732.51 and the Dow Jones industrial average sank 136.46 to 10,801.42.

Inter@ctive Week's @Net Index was down 0.11 to 296.62.

Strong retail sales data and an upcoming employment report put the markets on edge, triggering inflation jitters and their accompanying rise in interest rates. If Friday's August employment report shows unexpected strength, the Federal Reserve may be tilted towards another interest rate increase.

In other economic indicators, factory orders rose 2.1 percent, faster than expected, in July, but productivity was less impressive than first thought in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department's report on factory orders. The number of initial claims for jobless benefits rose slightly last week to 289,000 for the week ended Aug. 28, up from a revised 285,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Global Crossing Ltd. on Thursday again sweetened its pact to buy local and long distance telephone company Frontier Corp., this time offering about $10 billion after a decline in its stock price eroded much of the premium it previously offered to pay. Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GBLX) dropped 1 1/16 to 22 15/16, while Frontier Corp. (NYSE: FRO) jumped 13/16 to 43 1/16.

Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN) sunk 1 3/32 to 64 1/2 . The company said Thursday it plans to expand its car buying service to five new states to grab part of the booming market for online automobile sales. Competitor Autobytel.com (Nasdaq: ABTL) was down 5/16 to 15 5/8.

Go2Net (Nasdaq: GNET) rose 9 percent, up 4 3/4 to 65 Thursday after coverage was initiated by James Preissler of PaineWebber with a "buy" rating.

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) shed 17/8 to 141 7/16, while Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) added 1 9/16 to 61 1/16 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) dropped 3/4 to 90 1/8. Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), down 3/8 to 41 5/8, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), down 1/16 to 29 1/16 , Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), down 9/16 to 37 11/16, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG) down 3/4 to 27 1/2 . CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) sank 5/8 to 80 1/4 .

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) lost 15/16 to 68, Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), sank 13/16 to 63 3/16, and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) lost 1/16 to 24 11/16.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was down 3/8 to 92, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) dropped 1/2 to 82 15/16 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) shed 1/4 to 19 5/8.

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) lost 2 1/8 to 125 1/8 and Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) slipped 1/16 to 95 13/16 while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) dropped 1 1/16 to 46 13/16, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) fell 3/16 to 22 13/16. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) lost 7/16 to 68 3/16.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) added3/4 to 38 7/16, AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) sank 1/2 to 46 7/8 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) also lost 1/2 to 79 1/4 .

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