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MARKET CLOSE: Techs stocks end week with healthy gains

Technology stocks closed out an exciting week with strong gains Friday as the Nasdaq composite sprinted up 179 points to close at 4,446.45. The Dow Jones industrial average closed off 3 points to 11,111.48.

Investors were pleased that the March unemployment rate of 4.1 percent was higher than expected, easing fears that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at an even steeper rate. Job creation surged in a seasonal anomaly, while average hourly earnings, which measure wage inflation, gained only slightly.

"This is not the kind of market that is going to take it on the chin for more than a few days at a time," said Larry Rice, chief investment officer at Josephthal Lyon & Ross, noting the rebound in tech leaders after a steep slide early this week. "We had that big downdraft and everybody was ready to bury the stocks, but of course we bought them back on the dips, as we have for the last year."

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) shares moved up 3 to 89 while Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) added 4 15/16 and 6 1/8 a share, respectively.

Two prominent Healtheon/WebMD Corp. (Nasdaq: HLTH) directors gave the company a vote of confidence Friday by requesting to purchase flagging shares on the open market. Its shares stormed up 7 1/2 to 29 3/16.

Safeguard Scientifics Inc. (NYSE: SFE) jumped 8 3/4 to 59 1/4 as a batch of analysts kicked off coverage of the stock with bullish ratings.

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 2 7/8 to 151 1/8. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) closed up 3 3/4 to 68 5/8 and Lycos Inc. (LCOS) ended up 3/16 to 59 7/8. Inc. (AMZN) rose 3 5/16 to 67 9/16 and eBay Inc. (EBAY) shed 1 1/8 to 180 7/8.

Go2Net (Nasdaq: GNET) gained 8 9/16 to 76 1/16 after president John Keister said the company is comfortable with estimates for its fiscal second quarter ending March 31.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) rose 3 5/8 to 55 3/16; Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) added 1/2 to 29 3/4; Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) charged up 6 9/16 to 131 3/4 and Gateway Inc. (GTW) tacked on 5/8 to 50 1/2.

On the IPO front, e-market software firm Saba Software (Nasdaq: SABA) rose 18 to 33 in its debut.