MARKET CLOSE: Wall Street sees smooth sailing ahead

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More good news from the Labor Department helped bolster technology stocks again Thursday as the Nasdaq composite picked up 21 points to close at another record high of 2,839.31. The Dow added 38 points to finish at 11,186.41.

The Labor Department reported U.S. consumers saw no inflation for the second straight month in June, indicating the Federal Reserve should hold interest rates steady. This is the first time the consumer price index was flat for two months in a row since the February-to-April period of 1986. The CPI was expected to rise 0.1 percent.

"There is certain optimism out there about the numbers," said Roy Blumberg, money manager at Sheer Asset Management. "So far the limited numbers of earnings that have been coming in have been good."

Strong earnings didn't do Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) investors much good Thursday as the stock fell 2 11/16 to 53 ? after posting better-than-expected earnings in its third quarter.

Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) inched up 7/16 to 43 15/16 and Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) lost 1/8 to 27 7/8. Gateway Inc. (GTW) lost 1 1/4 to 72 and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) closed off 1 to 136 1/4.

Intel Corp. (INTC) trimmed 5/16 to 67 11/16. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) also lost 5/16 to 17 11/16 after meeting reduced earnings estimates in its latest quarter. Rambus Inc. (RMBS) stormed up 17 11/16 to a 52-week high of 115 ? after beating Street estimates by 2 cents a share in its third quarter.

Unisys Corp. (UIS) picked up 3/8 to 44 7/16 after the information technology services firm handily beat Wall Street estimates with second quarter earnings of $119.7 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $1.89 billion. Unisys also said it was comfortable with earnings goals for the year.

Internet stocks were mixed Thursday as Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) fell 5 to 154 7/16 while America Online Inc. (AOL) and Excite@Home Corp. (ATHM) lost 2 1/8 and 1 3/8 a share respectively. Infoseek Corp. (SEEK) shed 15/16 to end at 43 13/16.

CyberCash Inc. (CYCH) shares fell 2 7/16 to 10 5/16 after it warned it would miss second-quarter estimates.

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) gained 4 9/16 to 139 9/16 and Lycos Inc. (LCOS) added 1 3/8 to 104.

Among other widely held technology stocks, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) dropped 9/16 to 94 3/8; Oracle Corp. (ORCL) tacked on 15/16 to 39; Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) slipped 1 3/8 to 47 9/16; Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) charged up 1 1/4 to 66 9/16 and Lucent Technologies Inc. (LU) closed up 2 5/8 to 77 5/8.