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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs held back by PCs

Nets were continuing their healthy gains at midday Thursday, though suffering PC stocks hampered a broader recovery. The Nasdaq rose 8.64 to 2573.62, and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 61.11 to 10848.91.

Inter@ctive Week's @Net Index rose 1.44 to 264.14.

The days gains were in spite of the latest economic data, a stronger than predicted July retail sales report. Sales rose 0.7 percent last month, compared with a 0.3 percent gain expected by economists. The June sales rate was revised downward to a decline of 0.2 percent, from the 0.1 percent gain first reported.

Though its far from bad news, the index does indicate a booming economy, and is likely to be factored in to the Fed's decision on interest rates, along with the report on jobless claims. The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time jobless claims in the last week rose to 284,000, up 4,000 from the prior week, but below the 294,000 expected by economists.

Another couple of guinea pigs in the IPO market clambered above the break even line. NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT), scurried up 1 5/16 to 12 5/16, after it priced shares at $11, the bottom of its already lowered $11-12 range. Global data network operator IXNet (Nasdaq: EXNT) was just keeping its head above water as it panted up 1/16 to 15 1/16 after making the splash at $15 per share, well below its originally proposed $18-$20 price range.

PC stocks were falling out of favor after Merrill Lynch's new personal computer analyst Steve Fortuna initiated coverage of Gateway and Micron Electronics with neutral ratings, citing unfavorable industry conditions. Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) fell 2 7/8 to 80 3/8 and Micron Electronics Inc. (Nasdaq:MUEI ) lost 15/32 to 9 5/8. Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) dropped 1 5/16 to 40 15/16, and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) dropped 2 1/8 to 121 3/16. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) added 7/16 to 23 3/8. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) also moved up, 9/16 to 60 1/4.

Healtheon Corp. (Nasdaq: HLTH), up 4 5/16 to 34 3/8, or about 14 percent, posted second quarter net loss of 25 cents a share, or $17.6 million Thursday, just below First Call's estimated loss of 22 cents a share.

Shop At Home, Inc. (Nasdaq: SATH) shares shot up 16 percent Thursday morning after the company said it hired three investment banks to explore the possible sale of some or all of its television stations.

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) cheered up 1 3/16 to 129 1/4, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) inched up 5/8 to 91 9/16. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) added 1 to 93 3/8. Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), up 1 7/16 to 34 13/16, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), even at 29 3/8, Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), up 1 7/8 to 37 5/16, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG) up 1/4 to 27. CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) also rose 1 1/16 to 76 5/8.

Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) sunk 7/16 to 63 1/4, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) shed 1/4 to 62 11/16, and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) lost 1/4 to 23 1/8.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) sunk 1 1/16 to 83 1/8, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 1/16 to 76 1/16, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) gained 3/16 to 18 3/4.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) fell 3/16 to 36 9/16, AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) rose 1/4 to 48 11/16 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dipped 1 5/16 to 70 3/8.