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Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs suffer from interest rate anxiety

Bad economic news mixed with a few profit warnings and downgrades dragged techs down at midday Friday. The Nasdaq slumped 23.45 to 2,722.71 and the Dow Jones industrial average shed 100.36 to 10,236.59.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was even at 322.79.

Stocks skittish over next week's Federal Reserve meeting fell after the September National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) index jumped to a reading of 57.8. Economists had expected the index, a measure of business conditions in the manufacturing sector, to edge up to 54.3 from a reading of 54.2. A reading above 50 on the index indicates expansion in the sector. The Fed meets Tuesday to determine whether interest rates will get another hike.

Vixel (Nasdaq: VIXL), which makes fibre channel products for storage area networks (SANs), priced its initial public offering at $18, ahead of its revised price range of $14 to $16. Vixel leads a slew of offerings on deck for Friday. Daleen Technologies (Nasdaq: DALN) jumped 2 1/4, to 14 1/4, or 18 percent. Williams Communications (NYSE: WCG) leapt 5 7/16 to 28 7/16, or 24 percent. Digital Insight (Nasdaq: DGIN) and Vixel had yet to trade.

Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) fell almost 4 percent Friday after the stock was downgraded to a "long-term attractive" from a "buy" by BancBoston Robertson Stephens. Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) sank 1 3/16 to 40 5/8, and computer hardware stocks were suffering across the board. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) fell 3/8 to 22 1/2 and Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) sank 1 7/16 to 61 7/8. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) lost 1 7/8 to 119 1/8 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) shed 1 7/16 to 91 5/16. Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) rose 1 11/16 to 45 11/16.

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (NYSE: HWP) chief executive Carly Fiorina told analysts the company had a "decent shot" at meeting fourth quarter earnings estimates but saw sales growth at the low end of the forecasted 10 to 13 percent range. Shares were down 1 5/8 to 89 1/8.

Circuit maker Sipex Corp. (Nasdaq: SIPX) fell 19 percent, or 2 13/16 to 11 1/2 on high volume Friday after the company issued a third quarter profit warning due to a materials shortage from its Taiwan supplier.

Covad Communications Group Inc. (Nasdaq: COVD), down 4 21/32 to 38 15/16, said Friday it plans to register to sell about 13 million shares of its common stock.

Sprint (NYSWE: FON) sank 5/8 to 54 7/8, Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) rose 1 5/8 to 67 7/16, and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) slipped ? to 88 13/16 and AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) gained 1/16 to 43 9/16.

Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) jumped 8 percent, or after majority owner AT&T (NYSE: T) said it considering its options regarding the ownership of the Internet portal/service provider. Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), up 3 3/4 to 42 1/8. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) sank 2 1/8 to 78 5/8. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 9/16 to 179 7/8, America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) lost 3/8 to 108 7/8. Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), up 7/8 to 51 1/4, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), down 3/8 to 30 1/2, and EarthLink Network, Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK) down 1/16 to 43 3/4. eBay Inc.(Nasdaq: EBAY) rose 4 5/8 to 143 5/8.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) lost 3/16 to 68 3/8, Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) dropped 1 3/16 to 63 11/16 and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) added 1/16 to 28 13/16.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) rose 1/8 to 45 5/8. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) lost 1 to 89 9/16, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 9/16 to 74 7/8, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) gained 3/8 to 17 9/16.