MARKET CLOSE: Nasdaq breaks through 4,000

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Technology stocks made strong gains in late trading Wednesday as the Nasdaq composite closed up 53 points to 4,011.00. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 6 points to 11,144.65.

With the interest-rate issue temporarily shifted to the back burner, investors were free to pick and choose among the tech bellwethers.

"This is a market that in my opinion is poised to move to higher levels in the near term, but participants just want justification," said George Rodriguez, senior vice president at Guzman & Co. "There's confidence in the big tech names."

Sun Microsystems (SUNW) continued its torrid pace, jumping another 4 1/2 to a 52-week high of 126 11/16. Oracle (ORCL) shaved off 11/16 to 82 7/8 and Microsoft (MSFT) closed off 1/2 to 70 3/4.

Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) raced up 8 9/16 to 54 5/8 after the company beat estimates in its fourth quarter, and predicted stronger growth ahead. The company also announced a deal with Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP), up 1 3/16 to 4 3/4.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer (DELL) gained 1 1/4 to 38 11/16; Gateway (GTW) finished up 1 9/16 to 64 9/16; Apple Computer (AAPL) moved up 2 5/8 to 54 5/16 and Compaq (CPQ) closed off 5/8 to 33 3/8.

Broadband firms were jockeying for position Wednesday, with several deals and announcements being made.

SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), up 11/16 to 40 5/16, said it has begun market trials of neighborhood broadband gateways. Covad (Nasdaq: COVD), up 11/16 to 15 3/4, was among the carriers announcing Project Pronto participation.

Multiple Zones International (Nasdaq: MZON) soared up 2 5/16 to 38 13/16 on a deal with Microsoft to become its primary source for computer products and services.

Visual Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: VNWK) fell 3 31/32 to 6 27/32 following Tuesday night's news that the company won't meet its already lowered estimates for the year.

Yahoo! (YHOO) moved up 6 5/16 to 133 13/16 while eBay (EBAY) and Lycos (LCOS) both closed up 1 1/16 to 57 13/16 and 61 7/16, respectively.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) added 2 5/16 to 38 13/16 after announcing it will get into the car business, announcing plans to launch a car-buying service with Greenlight.com Thursday.

Intel (INTC) picked up 2 7/16 to 74 9/16 while Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and IBM (IBM) closed up 1/16 and 1 7/16 a share, respectively.