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Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs soar on economic news

Techs kicked into high gear at midday Thursday as economic data eased inflation concerns. The Nasdaq recovered 51.85 to 2,854.37 and the Dow Jones industrial average zipped up 218.46 to 10,613.35.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index leapt 9 to 341.19.

Concerns over possible interest-rate hikes were allayed when two highly anticipated economic reports came in with a better than expected outlook for inflation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the Employment Cost Index rose 0.8 percent. Economists polled by Reuters expected the ECI to rise by 0.9 percent. Third-quarter gross domestic product growth came in at 4.8 percent, compared to an expected rise of 4.7 percent.

For the first time in perhaps Inc.'s history, the hallelujah chorus stayed home as a few Wall Street analysts downgraded the company as expenses continue to balloon. Shares fell 3 13/16 to 72 1/8. (Nasdaq: BNBN), up 5/16 to 20, topped estimates Thursday with a smaller-than-expected loss.

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) jumped 4 13/16 to 179 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) grew 1 15/16 to 121 9/16.

Web hosting company Data Return Corp. (Nasdaq: DRTN) jumped 46 percent in its stock market debut. After pricing 6.25 million shares at $13 each, the stock jumped to $19 when it opened and had settled back to about 18 by late morning.

iXL Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: IIXL), up 3/8 to 42, posted a third quarter loss of 20 cents a share Thursday, far better than First Call's expected loss of 35 cents a share. Strong demand for its Internet consulting services and organic growth drove the quarter. (Nasdaq: MKTW), down 1 11/16 to 56 3/4, and (Nasdaq: EFTD), down 3/32 to 6 5/32, also posted results.

MCI Worldcom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM), up 4 3/4 to 82 5/16, said third quarter earnings were $1.1 billion, or 56 cents a share, beating First Call's prediction of 54 cents a share as demand for the company's more cost-effective Internet services continued to rise.

StorageTek (NYSE: STK), up 3/8 to 15 missed lowered estimates again. The network storage company said it will cut 1,500 to 1,750 jobs, giving it an annual savings of $150 million. Storage Tek announced the restructuring as it reported third quarter earnings of $4.7 million, or 5 cents a share, missing First Call's prediction of 8 cents a share

Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) tumbled 20 percent, or down 11 3/4 to 48 1/8 after it agreed to buy the Divicom business of C-Cube Microsystems Inc. for about $1.47 billion in stock, saying it would make Harmonic stronger in delivering video, voice and data over high-speed networks.

Recent Dow addition Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was down 11/16 to 90 3/16 and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) rose 1 7/8 to 94 7/8.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) rose 5/16 to 38 11/16, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) was even at 19 1/16. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) jumped 1 3/16 to 70 3/8 and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) lost 3/8 to 62 3/8. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) was up 1 39/64 to 71 3/64.