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MIDDAY MARKETS: Internets shine despite sluggish techs

Internet issues were perky following the Mindspring-Earthlink merger despite a weak market for technology issues. The Nasdaq sank 19.38 to 2838.78, and the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 56.04 to 10468.03.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 1 to 320.54.

In yet another indicator of America's booming economy, new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to their lowest level in 25 years, according to the Labor Department's report. The number of Americans filing first-time claims for state unemployment benefits was 272,000 for the week ended Sept. 18, their lowest since the 269,000 in the week ended Jan. 5 1974. That report stoked inflation fears.

Internet issues were among the big movers.

CNet was up 7 1/16 to 50 on high volume after getting a kick from Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, who raised their rating on CNet Inc. (Nasdaq: CNET) to "strong buy" from "market perform."

With Internet service provider competition heating up, Earthlink (Nasdaq: ELNK), up 2 5/8 to 46 1/8, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG), down 3 3/8 to 29 1/2, decided they would have a better chance together than apart. The two companies said they would merge to create an ISP with 3 million members and annual revenue of $650 million.

Other Net bellwethers were also rising. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) added 1 1/2 to 92 1/2 despite a downgrade, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) gained 3 7/8 to 183 3/8, and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) hopped up 15/16 to 66 15/16. Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), steady at 46 7/8, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), down 9/16 to 28 1/4, and Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), even at 38 5/16. eBay Inc.(Nasdaq: EBAY) went up 3 7/16 to 152 9/16 and CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) rose 2 3/4 to 85 9/16.

Thursday's IPOs were making good headway. Interactive Intelligence (Nasdaq: ININ) popped up 182 percent, or 23 5/8 to 36 5/8. Cybergold (Nasdaq: CGLD) ran up 44 percent, or 3 15/16 to 12 15/16, and Yesmail.com (Nasdaq: YESM) jumped 4 3/4 to 15 3/4, and Ashford.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ASFD) had yet to begin trading.

Other issues were weaker.

Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) tumbled 2 3/16 to 68 1/8, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) jumped 11/16 to 125 7/8 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dropped 11/16 to 92 11/16. Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) shed 1 13/16 to 46 3/4, while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) dropped 13/16 to 45 1/4 and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) jumped 3/16 to 23 5/8.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) lost 3/4 to 71 1/2, Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) jumped up 1/2 to 67 11/16 and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) slipped 7/8 to 27 3/4. Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) sank 2 to 83 3/4, Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) lost 3/4 to 66 3/8 and AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) was stuck at 44.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) lost 7/16 to 45 1/4. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) shed 3/4 to 95 5/16, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) dropped 1 5/8 to 81 3/16, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) shaved off 1/2 to 18 7/16.

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