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Market Close: Techs make modest gains

With the notable exceptions of IBM and Dell, technology stocks enjoyed decent gains Wednesday as the Nasdaq composite added 19 points to 2,577.40. The Dow closed up 50 points to 10,887.39.

After the Federal Reserve Board decided to move toward a tightening bias Tuesday, investors put the possibility of an interest-rate hike in the back of their minds.

IBM Corp. (IBM) fell 2 5/8 to 235 7/8. Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) dropped 4 1/4 to 39 13/16 after analysts worried about the PC maker's near-term prospects. Dell did meet analysts' estimates of 16 cents a share in its first quarter Tuesday.

"I think you are just getting some profit-taking in technology stocks. You are starting to see some valuation concerns in IBM," said Barry Hyman, market strategist at Ehrenkrantz, King & Nussbaum.

Other PC makers were roughed up as well as Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) lost 5/16 to 25 15/16 and Gateway Inc. (GTW) shed 1 3/4 to 65 1/16. Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) trimmed 1/16 to 45 3/16.

Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) shot up 2 3/16 to 65 5/16 after beating second quarter estimates. BEA Systems Inc. (BEAS) also benefited from strong earnings, picking up 2 1/8 to 20 1/2 after topping expectations for its first quarter.

Intel Corp. (INTC) added 3/4 to 59 11/16 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) picked up 2 5/16 to 21 11/16.

British Telecommunications Plc. (BTY) soared up 8 13/16 to 177 1/2 after reporting a 36 percent rise in fourth quarter earnings.

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) gained 6 15/16 to 139 9/16. America Online Inc. (AOL) rose 1 1/4 to 135 5/16 and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) tacked on 1 7/16 to 158 1/4.

Excite Inc. (XCIT) fell 3 3/16 to 151. Infoseek Corp. (SEEK) dropped 1 1/4 to 47 and Lycos Inc. (LCOS) shot up 4 1/16 to 117 after reporting a narrower third quarter loss and a declaring a 2-for-1 split.

eBay Inc. (EBAY) closed up 7 1/4 to 196 13/16 after buying Billpoint, a credit card transaction company, and Kruse, a collectible car auctioneer, for $275 million in stock.

Theglobe.com Inc. (TGLO) fell 2 1/16 to 20 1/16 after the online community builder said it would sell another 6 million shares in a follow-on offering.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) added 5/8 to 79 5/16. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) gained 1 9/16 to 26 3/8 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) closed up 11/16 to 64 1/2.