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MIDDAY MARKETS: Worldcom dings techs

Worldcom led techs into a downswing at midday Wednesday. The Nasdaq tumbled 10.34 to 3,359.29 and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 55.36 to 10,915.78

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was unchanged at 438.79.

Worldcom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM) announced Wednesday it will spin off its MCI business into a tracking stock. The company also lowered expectations for its fourth quarter and fiscal 2001. Shares tumbled down 4.38 to 19.375 as analysts downgraded the stock.

Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR), down 5.88 to 35.06, was also falling off after it said October resales October of its specialty semiconductors were slightly below management expectations.

Virata Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTA) shares shot up over 27 percent, or 5.25 to 24.63 in early trading Wednesday after the company announced a strategic alliance with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

NICE Systems (Nasdaq: NICE), down 0.75 to 46, reported Wednesday third quarter earnings of 58 cents a share, a penny above First Call's consensus estimate. It also said it will buy parts of Stevens Communications Inc. for $10.5 million in cash and up to 426,852 ADRs.

Broadband services company Covad Communications Group Inc. (Nasdaq: COVD), down 0.19 to 5.09, said that CEO Robert Knowling will step down.

Sequoia Software (Nasdaq: SQSW, up 0.47 to 5.47, handily topped estimates Wednesday with a third quarter loss of $4.2 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $5.3 million. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 2.81 to 39.44, AOL (NYSE: AOL) gained 0.77 to 51.27 and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) was up 7.62 to 66.25.

Among other leading tech issues: Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO)rose 0.38 to 54.25, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) gained 1.38 to 54.25, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) jumped 1 to 69.87 and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) shed 0.5 to 32.5.