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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs breathe easy on CPI report

Techs decided to focus on earnings season at midday Tuesday, after a neutral CPI report left them carefree of inflation woes. The Nasdaq rose 27.03 to 2,716.18, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 157.04 to 10,273.32.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index jumped 10 to 328.83.

Techs got the injection they needed from a benign inflation report Tuesday morning. Markets rallied across the board on news that the Consumer Price Index for September, a measure of inflation, rose 0.4 percent as expected. The so-called ``core'' CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.3 percent, also matching expectations of economists polled by Reuters.

The neutral news finally allowed techs to focus on earnings.

Shares of Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq: CPWR) jumped 18 percent Tuesday after the company rolled past analysts' estimates in its second quarter Monday, earning $108.8 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $568.1 million. Shares were up 4 7/16 to 28 15/16.

Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) sank 2 1/16 to 82 3/8 after it posted third quarter earnings of 51 cents a share, 143 percent increase over last year's quarter, and a healthy 8 cents ahead of First Call's expectation of 43 cents a share. The company said semiconductor revenue, up 26 percent to $1.92 billion, offset the loss of revenue from its divested memory business. Other semiconductor bigwig Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) was down 1 1/2 to 67 7/8.

Clarify shares took off Tuesday after Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT), down 1 3/16 to 51 3/16, said it will issue more than $2 billion in stock to buy the company. Clarify (Nasdaq: CLFY) was up 18 5/16 to 63 5/8, or 40 percent.

The parties touted the move as a way to create an e-commerce powerhouse. It may also boost Nortel's competition with Cisco Systems Inc (Nasdaq: CSCO), up 1 1/16 to 68 7/16. Cisco also made software-related news Monday -- the world's biggest maker of computer networking equipment and International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM) -- the world's largest computer maker -- said they plan to team up to deliver business software over the World Wide Web. IBM shares were up 7/8 to 68 7/16. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) shed 1/2 to 87 3/8 ahead of its earnings report.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) was still suffering 7 percent, down 2 15/16 to 38 3/8 after warning Monday that its third-quarter earnings will be lower than expected due to rising memory chip prices.

Other PC makers were mixed. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), up 5/16 to 73 9/16, Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) down 3 1/8 to 48 3/8 and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) down 1/2 to 19 15/16, were some of the day's less enthusiastic techs.

So where was the Nasdaq getting its boost? Those interest rate sensitive Net stocks.

Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) was 2 7/16 to 41, or 6 percent, ahead of earnings expected after the bell. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 2 9/16 to 76 5/8, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) grew 4 9/16 to 174 15/16 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 3 3/16 to 113 15/16.

CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI) jumped 3 9/16 to 97 7/8, Lycos (Nasdaq: LCOS) surged 1 7/8 to 53 7/8 and eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) gained 3 7/8 to 133 3/8.