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MARKET CLOSE: Employment data boosts stocks

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Technology stocks closed out the week with decent gains Friday as the Nasdaq composite picked up 28 points to 4,234.27. A tame employment report affirmed the conventional wisdom that the U.S. economy is slowing cooling off.

The Labor Department showed the unemployment rate edged up to a slightly higher-than-expected 4.1 percent in August versus 4.0 percent in July. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings, a closely watched inflation indicator, rose a modest 0.3 percent in August. The economy shed 105,000 non-farm jobs in August, adding to July's loss of 51,000 jobs.

"This is exactly the soft landing that (Fed Chairman) Alan Greenspan wants," said Bill Cheney, chief economist for John Hancock funds. "There is no serious wage pressure, you've got the labor market easing off a bit. It's just what the doctor ordered."

Viant (VIAN) shares plunged $5.69 to $8.19 after the Internet consultant warned that it would report a loss in its third quarter. Fellow consultants Scient (SCNT) and Agency.com (ACOM) fell $5.06 and $2.19 a share, respectively.

Yahoo! (YHOO) shares fell $7.56 to $113.94. America Online (AOL) lost $1.54 a share to $57.39 while eBay (EBAY) and Lycos (LCOS) moved up $1 and $3.63 a share, respectively. Amazon.com (AMZN) closed unchanged at $41.50.

Egghead.com (Nasdaq: EGGS) inched up 6 cents to $2.88 after it announced plans to relocate 20 percent of its workforce from Menlo Park, California to Vancouver, Washington as part of a cost cutting move.

Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GBLX) picked up $5.06 to $35/13 after it raised estimates for its fiscal year, citing strong than expected first half results. The company now expects EBITDA for the year to be $1.34 billion, up from the previous estimate of $1.21 billion.

Microsoft (MSFT) added 38 cents to $70.19 while Oracle (ORCL) and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) both gained $1.69 a share.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell (DELL) shed 56 cents to $43.06; Apple Computer (AAPL) gained $2.50 to $63.44; Compaq (CPQ) trimmed 27 cents to $33.81 and Gateway (GTW) moved up 57 cents a share to $68.68.

Intel (INTC) dropped 94 cents to $73.94. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) trimmed 19 cents to $37.31 and IBM (IBM) finished up $1.61 to $133.63.