Internet shares sprinted ahead at midday Thursday, leading a modest rally ahead of speeches and economic data that could offer more insight into the future of interest rates. The Nasdaq rose 30.84 to 2,839.58, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 34.20 to 11,070.54.
The broader markets maintained modest gains as investors picked up technology and oil stocks, but held back ahead of Friday's producer price index report, seen as a precursor to the consumer price index, which will be released next Wednesday. The PPI is expected to show that costs rose 0.3 percent in August.
Techs were still awaiting Fed governors Edward Gramlich and Roger Ferguson, as well as New York Fed president William McDonough, who had yet to make their scheduled speeches, slated for 12:30, 2:30, and 8 p.m. EDT, respectively.
The report on initial jobless claims garnered little attention; the number of Americans filing new claims for state jobless benefits fell by a slim 4,000 in early September, under the key 300,000 mark for a seventh consecutive week. The Labor Department also said claims slipped to 286,000 in the week ended Sept. 4 from a slight upward revision to 290,000 in the prior week.
Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose over 4 percent Thursday on the backs of upgrades, one of which cited increasing ad rates for its bullish outlook on the leading Internet portal. CIBC World Markets also put a a strong buy rating on Yahoo!, as it started coverage on shares of Internet companies. eBay Inc.(Nasdaq:EBAY), up 5 5/16 to 140 11/16, and America Online Inc. (NYSE:AOL) up 1 3/4 to 95 3/4, received "strong buy" ratings, and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN), up 2 1/2 to 63 15/16, a "buy" rating.
Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), up 1 1/16 to 44 3/16, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), up 7/16 to 30 11/16, Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), up 11/16 to 38 15/16, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG) up 1 9/16 to 28 7/8. CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) leapt 2 9/16 to 84 13/16.
1-800-Flowers.com (Nasdaq: FLWS)'s fourth-quarter loss of $3.4 million, or 8 cents a share, scraped by First Call estimates by a penny, but still failed to get the stock above its offering price of $21. Shares were down 1 7/8 to 17 3/4.
Electronic Data Systems Corp. (NYSE: EDS), up 1 1/8 to 59 1/8, said it would reorganize along a handful of service lines instead of a score of industrial categories, seeking to stoke the lackluster growth of the world's No. 2 computer services supplier.
Electronic commerce software maker Unify Corp. (Nasdaq: UNFY), which bounded up 5 to 21 3/4, or 30 percent, said it is extending a pact with Red Hat Inc (Nasdaq: RHAT), up 9 1/4 to 26, by certifying two new Internet products to run on Red Hat's latest distribution of Linux.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) grew 13/16 to 69 3/4, Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), sunk1 11/16 to 64 3/8, and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) added 9/16 to 26 1/4.
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) gained 3/4 to 93, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) added 1 5/8 to 87 9/16, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) skipped up 15/16 to 22 5/8.
IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) added 5 3/16 to 135 15/16 and Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) rose 5/8 to 48 15/16 while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) gained 1 to 48 5/8, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) tacked on 3/16 to 22 15/16. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hopped up 1/2 to 75.
Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) dropped 3/8 to 43 15/16, AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) grew 11/16 to 46 11/16 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) grew 1/16 to 85 1/2.