Market close: Afternoon bargain-hunters pull tech stocks up

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A flurry of buying at the end hauled the technology sector out of the rut it was sitting in for most of Monday's session.

One day before the Federal Reserve's policy-setting meeting, stocks were down for most of the session as traders held back on worries about higher interest rates. But buying accelerated in the last hour of trading to carry the tech-infused Nasdaq Composite Index to 33.97, up 2561.83 for the day. The @100 Index gained 46.91 to 4773.01, and the Tech 250 rose 14.27 to 2265.79.

The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 1.69 to 1339.49, but the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average couldn't get back into the black and finished at 10853.47, down 59.85 for the day.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 5 1/4 to 137 5/8 after the online retailer said it would offer a 50 percent discount on books listed on the New York Times best sellers list. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) gained 10 3/4 to 136 ahead of a meeting it will hold with analysts on Wednesday. Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 4 7/16 to 161 13/16.

Shares of Internet consultant Razorfish Inc. (Nasdaq: RAZF) gained 4 5/8 to 38 3/8 after the company reported a strong gain in first quarter sales.

Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) gained 2 5/16 to 26 9/16 and its former merger partner Tellabs Inc. (TLAB) dropped 1 1/8 to 116 7/8.

Global Crossing Ltd. (Nasdaq: GBLX) dropped 1 1/8 to 60 1/4 after agreeing to merge with US West Inc. (NYSE: USW). The Baby Bell fell 4 1/8 to 58 1/8.

Iridium World Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: IRID) fell 1 1/16 to 9 3/8 after J.P. Morgan downgraded the company to "market underperform." Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) declined 3 1/4 to 108 3/4.

Silknet Software Inc. (Nasdaq: SILK) rose 4 13/16 to 46 3/8 after the e-commerce software company was touted by C.E. Unterberg Towbin analyst Tara Long.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) increased 1 to 116 7/16 and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) declined 1 1/8 to 59 5/8.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) added 2 1/16 to 43 1/4 ahead of its first quarter results that are due out Tuesday after the bell. Also reporting Tuesday is Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), which gained 2 9/16 to 63 1/4.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP), which reported second quarter results after the bell today, gained 3 13/16 to 88. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) dropped 1 1/4 to 238 and Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) moved up 1/2 to 66 1/2.

Among chip-makers, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) advanced 1 7/16 to 59 7/16 after announcing a faster Pentium III chip. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) gained 1/8 to 18 7/8 as the company cut prices on its lineup to match a similar move by Intel last week.

Among software makers, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) edged up 2 1/4 to 79 1/8 and Computer Associates International Inc. (NYSE: CA) fell 9/16 to 41 5/8.

Communications services provider ICG Communications (Nasdaq: ICGX) picked up 1 9/16 to 22 1/16. Merrill Lynch upped the stock from a near-term "neutral" rating to near-term "accumulate" and from a long-term "accumulate" to a long-term "buy" recommendation.