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MARKET CLOSE: Techs keep going down

In the end, not even blue chips could resist the downward trend that kept bloodying tech stocks Thursday.

A burst of buying in the last half hour of the session prevented the Nasdaq Composite Index from closing at its lowest level since early February, but the tech-heavy index still ended the day down 186.42 to 4,458.25, its second straight day of a triple-digit point loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after spending most of the day in positive territory fell in the last hour of trading to close 38.16 lower to 10,980.56. The S&P 500 slid 20.56 to 1,487.96.

Inter@ctive Week's @100 Index dropped 222.73 to 6,316.17.

Analysts said profit-taking in the formerly high-flying technology sector and end-of-quarter "window-dressing," where fund manager's pack their portfolios with the winners, drove money from the tech sector.

"You had a lot of profits being accumulated by the traders in technology and not anywhere else," said Alfred Kugel, senior investment strategist at Stein Roe & Farnham. "When the traders get a little spooked, they have to sell what they have the profits in."

Declines in the Nasdaq were led by Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), the most active stock, which fell 2 7/16 to 73 5/8 Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), down 4 1/16 to 78 7/16 and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), down 4 7/8 to 127, were also giving the downswing momentum.

Veritas was one of the day's few winners, shooting up 2 31/64 to 144 63/64. Storage technology company Seagate (NYSE: SEG), down 8 1/2 to 65 1/2, said it would go private, and sell its 33 percent stake of Veritas Software (Nasdaq: VRTS) back to Veritas while a private investment group led by Silver Lake Partners would buy Seagate's operations for cash.

Cabletron Systems (NYSE: CS) plunged 36 percent, or 21 5/8 to 28 1/4 after it said it would cut 18 percent of its workforce and got a downgrade from Goldman Sachs.

An investment in old media by Internet incubator CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI), down 2 5/16 to 109 5/8 boosted publishing company Primedia (NYSE: PRM), which rose 4 3/8 to 31 1/2 after announcing it plans to go through a refocusing.

724 Solutions (Nasdaq: SVNX), down 12 1/2 to 130 said Thursday it would buy for about $127 million. It also inked a deal to buy YRLess Internet Corp.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)was down 3 3/4 to 103 7/16 after reports it planned further concessions in its antitrust trial.>