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MARKET CLOSE: Profit taking tags tech issues

Technology stocks finally met the same fate as their blue-chip brethren Friday as the Nasdaq composite plunged 90 points to 4,395.48 while the Dow Jones industrial average fell 218 points to close at 10,425.21.

"The market has come an awfully long way and it really needs a pause,'' said James Oberweis, Sr., president and portfolio manager of Oberweis Asset Management. "I believe we need a period of ups and downs where we don't make much progress to give earnings a chance to start to catch up with valuations."

Investors weren't even impressed with economic news that suggested the economy is beginning to slow; the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 0.3 percent in January, far lower than 0.5 percent forecasted by analysts. Excluding autos, sales fell 0.3 percent, the largest drop since April 1997. Analysts said the data was misleading due to upward revisions to previous months.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) shares shed 6 1/16 to 99 15/16 on reports that its much-anticipated Windows2000 offering is riddled with bugs. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) dropped 2 5/8 to 59 11/16 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) closed off 3/16 to 94 7/16.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) trimmed 1 59/64 to 36 7/8 after it met reduced estimates in its fourth quarter and said it expects flat growth on the bottom line in the first quarter.

Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) added 9/16 to 25 9/16 while Gateway Inc. (GTW) and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) closed off 2 3/8 and 4 3/4 a share, respectively.

In other earnings news, Learning Tree International, Inc. (Nasdaq: LTRE) rose 8 to 32 after it said net income for its first quarter was 35 cents a share, toppling First Call's prediction of 22 cents a share.

Elcom International, Inc. (Nasdaq: ELCO) lost 1 5/8 to 23 3/8 after it said fourth quarter and fiscal year revenue had been hurt by marketing costs, restructuring, and new guidelines that restricted sales.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) gained 2 3/16 to 44 11/16 after it said its first-quarter sales and earnings would be better than expected. Intel Corp. (INTC) lost 1 3/4 to 105 7/8 and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) closed off 4 to 115 1/8.

On the IPO front, e-tailer (Nasdaq: IPET)'s turned out to be a dog, closing unchanged at $11 a share.

Lante Corp. (Nasdaq: LNTE) closed up 34 15/16 to 54 15/16 in its debut while WebMethods (Nasdaq: WEBM), an XML-based business-to-business software company, shot up 177 5/8 to 212 5/8 in its outstanding initial public offering.

Among widely held Internet stocks, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) fell 22 5/16 to 342 11/16; America Online Inc. (AOL) shed 1 11/16 to 56 9/16; Inc. (AMZN) was unchanged at 76 3/16 and Lycos Inc. (LCOS) closed off 3 9/16 to 69 5/16.

MCI WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM) closed up 9/16 to 50 3/8 following yesterday's earnings news, and an announcement the company could create a tracking stock for its Net unit.