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Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs tread water, but e-tailers shine

A mighty river of holiday shoppers flocked to at midday Wednesday, bidding it and other seasonal e-commerce plays up amid lackluster techs. The Nasdaq rose 0.53 to 2,756.78 and the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 5.38 to 10,270.15.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 3.00 to 325.40.

In economic news, durable goods orders rose 0.9 percent in August, the government reported Wednesday, with demand for items such as airplanes and cars powering the gains. The rise marked the fourth consecutive monthly increase. CEO Jeff Bezos said that the company is bracing for huge holiday shopping volume, possibly two to three times what it had last year. (Nasdaq: AMZN) shares jumped 13 percent in heavy trading Wednesday after the company said it is entering the Web store-hosting business, announcing a new program to allow small businesses and consumers to sell products through its Web site. Shares had blasted up 11 to 76 7/8 by midday.

Etoys Inc (Nasdaq: ETYS) plowed up 14 percent Wednesday after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock, and the bullish holiday forecasts kept rolling in. The company also announced a new "Idea Center" for its site.

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) sank 1 to 183 11/16, America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) lost 1 7/16 to 108 7/16. Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), up 2 19/32 to 50 7/8, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), up 7/16 to 29 13/16, Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), up 3 3/4 to 42 1/8 and EarthLink Network, Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK) down 7/8 to 44 7/16. eBay Inc.(Nasdaq: EBAY) went up 1/4 to 138 1/4 and CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) rose 3 7/16 to 101 3/8.

Netsolve (Nasdaq: NTSL) took off 18 3/4 to 31 3/4 and (Nasdaq: SPNW) was up 3 5/8 to 15 5/8. (Nasdaq: EFTD) was also on deck, but had yet to debut.

Delivering a boost to the incipient market for registering new Internet addresses, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Internet registrar Network Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: NSOL), up 2 5/8 to 88 1/8 announced a long-term agreement paving the way for greater competition.

Bell Atlantic Corp., the biggest local U.S. phone company, filed for Federal Communications Commission approval to provide long-distance service in New York State, the company said. Approval would make Bell Atlantic the first regional Baby Bell to enter the $80 billion long-distance market since the breakup of AT&T's phone monopoly 15 years ago. Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) rose 13/6 to 67 15/16 and AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) gained 3/4 to 44 1/2.

Also in the telecommunications space, Qwest Communications International Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST), up 3/32 to 29 1/8 said it agreed to house computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (NYSE: HWP), down 2 1/2 to 92 11/16, ambitious Web business software push.

Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) slipped 7/16 to 59 3/16, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) lost I 7/16 to and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) gained 11/16 to 93 11/16. Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) shed 9/16 to 44 7/16, while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) dropped 7/16 to 43 7/16. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) lost 1/8 to 22 11/16.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) rose 1/16 to 68 7/16, Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) dropped 1 3/8 to 64 ? and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) gained 5/8 to 28 13/16.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) rose 1 1/16 to 43 15/16. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) shed 1 to 91 1/8, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) dropped 13/16 to 76 11/16, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) rose 5/8 to 17 13/16.