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Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs continue to fall

Techs continued to slide at midday Thursday while blue-chips surged on news of a better-than-expected PPI report. The Nasdaq dropped 42.09 to 4540.53, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 319.25 to 10,450.66.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index shed 20 to 590.60.

The Producer Price Index, which shows inflation at the wholesale level, came in at 0.3 percent for February. The report was slightly ahead of estimates, and should have lifted on stocks.

Techs continued the week's decline nevertheless, with the three most actively traded stocks, Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), down 3/4 to 77 3/8, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), down 1 5/8 to 52 1/16 and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), down 1 7/8 to 126 3/4, all slipped.

On the IPO front, ImproveNet (Nasdaq: IMPV) rose a modest 1 5/8 to 17 5/8, or 10 percent in debut.

A few companies reporting earnings were also on the rise. Tektronix's (NYSE: TEK) gained 4 1/2 to 62 5/8 on earnings which topped First Call's consensus estimate of 26 cents a share. Merix (Nasdaq: MERX), down 1/2 to 22 3/8, Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX), down 1 7/16 to 48, and NTN (Amex: NTN), down 9/16 to 5 1/4 also reported quarterly results.

Freeserve (Nasdaq: FREE), down 4 3/4 to 93, the UK's largest Internet service provider (ISP) and portal, unveiled steady growth in its e-commerce and advertising revenue.

Maxtor Corporation (Nasdaq: MXTR) gained 7/8 to 12 11/16, or 8 percent following an announcement that results for its fiscal first quarter ending April 1 will be better than expected.

eGain (Nasdaq: EGAN), down 4 to 47 1/2 said it would buy Inference, a competitor in the customer relationship management sector, for about $78.6 million

Other notable issues were also sluggish.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) fell 11/32 to 95 1/32. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) dropped 3/16 to 120. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 2 5/8 to 77 5/8, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 2 5/16 to 359 3/8, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 1/4 to 58.