MARKET CLOSE: Earnings angst keeps techs in check

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Technology stocks cooled off a bit Wednesday after less-than-stellar earnings reports from the likes of Intel and IBM. The Nasdaq composite closed off 87 points to 3,706.51 while the Dow shed 92 points to close at 10,674.96.

"Overall profits are quite strong, stronger than expected in the aggregate," said Marshall Acuff, an equity analyst at Salomon Smith Barney. "But the market is very sensitive and has been sensitive for quite some time in top-line performance. The IBM situation highlights that. Intel highlights that."

Also, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit hit a record $29.2 billion - greater than what was expected by economists polled by Reuters.

"The numbers were not that far out of whack," said Bill Meehan, chief market analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald. "A lot of it was energy-related. The numbers are not having much of an impact at all. I don't think they would have unless they were far afield of what was expected."

Intel Corp. (INTC) shares fell 9 15/16 to 119 1/16 after beating Street estimates in its latest quarter. IBM Corp. (IBM) fell 7 1/8 to 104 3/8 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) closed off 3 15/16 to 75 1/16.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) trimmed 15/16 to 49 9/16; Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) dropped 1/4 to 27 5/8; Gateway Inc. (GTW) lost 1/8 to 55 and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) ended off 5 3/4 to 121 1/8.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) slid 1 7/16 to 125 1/4. America Online Inc. (AOL) gained 1 1/4 to 62 while eBay Inc. (EBAY) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) fell 12 5/8 and 1 1/2 a share, respectively.

Ask Jeeves (Nasdaq: ASKJ) closed up 2 15/16 to 30 15/16 after the online search engine and interaction infrastructure provider reported a loss for its quarter.

EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK) slipped 1 to 15 1/2 after it posted a first quarter net loss excluding charges of $50.9 million, or 43 cents a share, on sales of $219.7 million.

Go2Net (Nasdaq: GNET) lost 6 to 54 after announcing it has hired Microsoft executive Rick Thompson to be its chief financial officer. Thompson played a role in Microsoft's X-box effort.

Spyglass, (Nasdaq: SPYG) closed up 4 1/2 to 40 1/2 after it reported a surprise operating profit Wednesday.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) trimmed 1 7/8 to 78 11/16. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) dipped 4 3/8 to 74 9/16 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) closed off 3 5/16 to 88 3/4.

Flextronics International Ltd. (Nasdaq: FLEX) jumped 6 7/16 to 65 7/8 on news the company will help Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) develop its much-anticipated X-box video game console.

Insweb Corp. (Nasdaq: INSW) tumbled 3 1/4 to 2 11/16 after it posted a smaller-than-expected loss, but warned revenue would dip due to the departure of its largest customer.

Sagent Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: SGNT) plunged 10 29/32 to 7 7/32 after the company missed revenue and earnings targets in the first quarter.

Lucent (NYSE: LU) gained 3 1/2 to 62 3/4 after it said second quarter earnings topped expectations. Cisco (CSCO) closed off 3 1/16 to 66 3/16 and 3Com Corp. (COMS) ended up 1 5/16 to 40 13/16.