MARKET CLOSE: Techs shoot higher

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Tech stocks roared higher with the overall market Tuesday as Wall Street sensed a close to the election saga and a possible easing of interest rates.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 274.05 to 2,889.80. The S&P 500 gained 51.57 to 1,376.54. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 338.62 to 10,898.72.

Inter@ctive Week's @100 Index advanced 194.38 to 3,204.28.

In a Tuesday morning speech, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the Fed had to be alert to the possibility of "excessive softening" in the U.S. economy, hinting that he may be willing to contemplate lower interest rates. That speech came a day after Republican George W. Bush inched closer to victory in the disputed presidential election after a Florida judge on Monday rejected Democrat Al Gore's legal challenge to the state's election results.

"Most people now assume the game is over ... so I think that's taken one of the uncertainties out of the market," Alfred Kugel, senior investment strategist at Stein, Roe & Farnham, said of the election dispute. "Greenspan's talk probably addressed the second one."

Nokia (NYSE: NOK) helped energize the market. The world's largest maker of wireless handsets advanced 6.8125 to 51.375 after raising its growth expectations for the next couple of years.

Other wireless-related stocks gaining significant ground included Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), up 9.609375 to 99.609375, and Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), up 1.3125 to 13.625.

Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) also shrugged off a negative report. Shares of the Dell rose 1.4375 to 20.25, despite a new "hold" rating from ABN Amro.

The three largest network equipment vendors thrived on Tuesday. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) leapt 6.3125 to 52.125 as the most active stock on U.S. markets. Cisco CEO John Chambers on Monday told analysts that the company remained confident in its previously-stated financial targets.

Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) rose 1.5 to 16.8125 as the most heavily traded issue on the New York Stock Exchange. The communications equipment vendor won a $780 million contract in Germany.

Cisco and Lucent rival Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT) picked up 4.1875 to 40.625.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) gained 3.0625 to 36. During an interview at an Asian tech conference, CEO Craig Barrett said the chip giant stands by its fourth quarter guidance.

Upstart chip maker Transmeta (Nasdaq: TMTA) blasted up 13 to 37, a day after underwriters began coverage of the stock with variations of "buy" and "strong buy" ratings.

Two other chip vendors provided some of the strongest evidence of Wall Street's upbeat mood on Tuesday. LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) and Xilinx (Nasdaq: XLNX) increased 2.61 to 20.8 and 1.875 to 43.5625, respectively, despite warning about lower-than-expected quarterly results.

Storage network equipment vendor EMC (NYSE: EMC) shot up 10.4375 to 89.9375. The company unveiled a low-cost storage device on Tuesday.

Network caching technology vendor Inktomi (Nasdaq: INKT) moved up 12.5 to 34.4375 after introducing the latest version of its Traffic Server product.

Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL) advanced 6.1875 to 39.75. The contract electronics manufacturer was recently upgraded by CS First Boston.

Among the day's notable decliners, 3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) slid 3.34375 to 10.03125 after warning of higher-than-expected losses for the current quarter.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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