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MARKET CLOSE: Techs end on mixed note

A day after plunging on gloomy news, the technology sector drifted Thursday as investors wavered between some upbeat news and more earnings warnings.

The Nasdaq Composite Index barely closed in positive territory after giving back most of its gains from late morning and early afternoon. The Nasdaq ended the day at 2,340.12, up 7.34 for the session. Inter@ctive Week's @100 Index slipped 5.75 to 2,634.05

Blue chip indices fared a bit better. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 168.36 to 10,487.29. The S&P 500 moved up 10.12 to 1,274.86.

"We reached one of those oversold conditions yesterday, but it's hard to say that the bottom has been reached," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist at Weatherly Securities. "You just have to accept the fact that technology is just a different ball game. There is going to be more short-term pain in many of these stocks until Wall Street's earnings estimates for next year come in line. You've got to lower those estimates dramatically."

Software giant Microsoft Corp (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 1.9375 to 43.4375 after it said it would acquire Great Plains Software Inc. (Nasdaq: GPSI), up 11.25 to 46.5625, in a stock deal valued at $1.1 billion.

Another positive release came from Qwest Communications (NYSE: Q), up 5.0625 to 37.4375. The company said that it expects to meet or beat analysts' estimates for its fourth-quarter earnings because of strong demand for its products and services

Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), down 1.3125 to 14.1875, saved its worst profit warning for last. Lucent said Thursday it will post a fiscal first quarter loss of 25 cents a share to 30 cents a share. The company also restated its fourth quarter results because of revenue recognition shenanigans and said it would restructure to save $1 billion.

Palm (Nasdaq: PALM) plunged 12.375 to 25.75 despite a strong quarterly report and unanimous kudos from analysts.

RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK) slid 4.375 to 5.5625 after its first profit warning in 12 quarters as a public company. Analysts were mixed in their reviews of the company's fourth quarter outlook.

Troubled copier giant Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) on Thursday warned of a wider than expected fourth-quarter loss and said it has used up its $7 billion credit line used to finance operations, causing its shares to fall 17 percent. Shares fell 1.125 to 4.875.

Despite missing estimates in its first quarter, Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) still looks good in the long term according to a host of analysts. Micron rose 1.125 to 30.9375.

Shares of wireless components maker Conexant (Nasdaq: CNXT) dropped 6.375 to 14 after the company warned for its first quarter and received a couple of analyst downgrades.

Telecom equipment maker Virata Corp.'s (Nasdaq: VRTA) shares dropped 2.0625 to 12 after the company said it would miss estimates for its third and fourth quarters due to the rescheduling of semiconductor shipments to its customers.