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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs take a breather

Techs were retreating at midday Tuesday, as investors were unimpressed by Amazon's expansion, the Microsoft situation, and the day's IPOs. The Nasdaq shed 34.58 to 3,109.39 and the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 108.57 to 10,610.28.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index sank 4 to 392.72.

Investors weren't even riled by the IPO of Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHRT), only up 1 9/16 to 20 9/16. Paul Allen's cable company priced its 170 million shares at $19 a pop for trading Tuesday. Netzee (Nasdaq: NETZ) was only up 2 to 16, after offering its 4.4 million shares at $14 each.

After rising on speculation about today's "significant announcement," investors sold on the news. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) shares down 4 5/8 to 73 3/8. The online retailer said it was launching four new stores, or online shopping sites, for home improvement, software, video games, and gift ideas. Amazon also said it had acquired Tool Crib of the North, a tools and equipment catalog company.

Other Nets weren't faring well either. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) lost 1 7/8 to 195 5/16 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) shed 4 5/8 to 145 3/4. At Home rose (Nasdaq: ATHM) just 1/2 to 45 7/16.

CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI) rose 3/4 to 105 as its Engage Technologies (Nasdaq: ENGA) unit is forming an alliance with Flycast (NASDAQ: FCST)- an advertising network that CMGI agreed to acquire in October in a deal valued at roughly $700 million. Engage shares were up 1 3/4 to 45 3/4. Flycast gained 1/4 to 47 3/4.

With its earnings report on deck, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), down 3/8 to 74 15/16, announced it was beefing up with another big purchase. Cisco said Tuesday it will buy Aironet Wireless Communications (Nasdaq: AIRO), up 3 1/8 to 46 3/8 for about $799 million to improve wireless access for its business customers.

Meanwhile, rival Nortel (NYSE: NT) lost 1 to 68 1/2 after it attempted to steal some of the spotlight Tuesday with a competitive joust in the networking field.

Telecommunications equipment maker Newbridge Networks (NYSE: NN) revived 5/8 to 18 1/8 after the stock reached lows unseen since 1995.

After Microsoft's competitors went ballistic Monday, it was time for a retreat. Linux champion Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) fell 6 3/4 to 97 1/4 and software maker Oracle Corp (Nasdaq: ORCL) sank 9/16 to 58 7/8. Meawhile Be Inc. (Nasdaq: BEOS) was up another 20 percent, or 1 5/16 to 7 13/16. Corel Corp. (Nasdaq: CORL), a Linux play and office software play, was up 7/32 to 8 1/32. Unix and Java play Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) was up 1/16 to 111 15/16

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was down 2 45/64 to 87 15/64. The company also said it will move ahead with long discussed plans to offer its Office productivity software online as a service by the end of the year.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s fall of 5 3/8 to 91, or 6 percent, was triggered by a downgrade from Salomon Smith Barney, who cut the stock to "outperform" from "buy."

Among other tech bellwethers, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) rose 1/8 to 40 1/4, Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) lost 1/2 to 20 1/2 and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) shed 5/8 to 93 5/16. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) lost 1 9/16 to 80 9/16.

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