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Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Microsoft rises amid tepid techs

The addition of a new character to the Microsoft drama failed to motivate techs at midday Monday, as investors nibbled on techs in the shortened week before Thanksgiving. The Nasdaq rose 7.85 to 3377.10, and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 44.65 to 11048.54.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 3 to 448.44.

Shares of Microsoft Corp (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 3 1/2 to 89 1/2 Monday morning after Friday's appointment of a mediator for the trial ignited hope of a settlement between the Justice Department and the software company. Richard Posner, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, is the new character in the antitrust drama.

Another development in the case may not have such a rosy effect in the stock; lawyers are expected to file a class action lawsuit against Microsoft on behalf of millions of Californians, according to a Monday report in the New York Times.

In other tech news, Electronic Arts announced a 5-year partnership with America Online and said it would make a tracking stock for its Internet gaming business. Warburg Dillon Read also raised its price target on the stock. Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq: ERTS) rocketed up 12 3/16 to 104 3/16. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) grew 3 11/16 to 162 5/16.

Speaking of tracking stocks, Excite@Home Corp (Nasdaq: ATHM) said late Sunday it will establish a tracking stock for its media assets in a move it hopes will help maximize the value of both parts of its business. Shares were up 1 7/8 to 53 3/16. Other Net issues included Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), which fell 3/8 to 77 9/16, and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), up 3 5/16 to 222 1/16.

Xoom.com (Nasdaq: XMCM) shares were up 5 to 71, in a sign that investors my finally be heeding the words of Chris Kitze, the chairman of Xoom.com and soon-to-be CEO of NBCi, who encouraged investors to buy Xoom shares as a proxy for the new NBCi back in May.

Prodigy Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: PRGY) was up 1 11/16 to 33 13/16, after it said it will merge Internet operations with SBC Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: SBC), down 1/16 to 51 7/16.

Sycamore Networks (Nasdaq: SCMR) fell 7 to 256 1/4 after it inked a four-year deal with Williams Communications (NYSE: WCG), up 1/16 to 28 5/8 where Williams will buy $100 million of Sycamore products each year. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell 3/4 to 87 3/8 and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) lost 1 1/8 to 87 3/8.

Cabletron Systems (NYSE: CS) rose 1 3/16 to 24 3/16 as it said it was selling its FlowPoint subsidiary to Efficient Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: EFNT), up 5 1/4 to 69 for about $861 million. Cabletron has also formed an alliance with Efficient to penetrate the DSL market.

Among PC makers, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) rose 1/4 to 41 9/16, Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) slid 9/16 to 25 11/16 and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) jumped 2 5/16 to 106 1/4. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) lost 5/16 to 82 1/16.