Market Midday: Techs slide

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Investors worried about an overly-strong economy drove stocks lower Thursday.

Technology issues followed the overall market down, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index dropping 29.31 to 2490.04 in early afternoon trading, the @100 Index falling 55.73 to 4660.86, and the @Net Index down 6.72 to 289.27. The S&P 500 had retreated 15.36 to 1303.28, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had slid 168.43 to 10597.21.

"Basically investors are afraid of the higher interest rate environment," said Peter Coolidge, senior equity trader at Brean, Murray & Co. "Techs and Internets have been struggling. The market for Internets has not been very receptive."

Globix Inc. (Nasdaq: GBIX), which provides Internet access for businesses, gained 2 7/8 to 37 5/8 after unveiling a peering agreement with America Online (NYSE: AOL), which was down 11/16 to 106 5/16. The deal establishes direct connections between Globix and AOL, so their clients can access each others' sites more rapidly.

Network Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: NSOL) picked up 6 3/4 to 67 1/8. The domain name registrar announced a plan to sell services of Infospace.com (Nasdaq: INSP), whose shares gained 1 1/4 to 47 1/2.

mPhase Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: XDSL), a provider of digital televison and other Internet services, went up 3/8 to 8. The company noted that "Internet Stock News" has placed mPhase on the "Ones to Watch in 1999" list.

Computer Associates Inc. (NYSE: CA) retreated 3 7/8 to 47 5/8 after Prudential Securities analyst Douglas Crook cut the stock to a "hold" rating from "accumulate". He predicted CA's share price would drop as low as 50 within a year.

Qwest Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST) fell 1 7/8 to 45 1/8 after rising yesterday on news that BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) wants to merge with it. At the PaineWebber Growth & Technology conference yesterday in New York, a Qwest executive declined to comment on specific merger plans. Shares of BellSouth fell 7/8 to 45 3/16.

E-mail service provider Critical Path Inc. (Nasdaq: CPTH) slid 1 3/4 to 47 the day after CustomTracks Corp. (Nasdaq: CUST) agreed to dismiss a lawsuit that had accused Critical Path of violating a confidentiality agreement between the two companies. CustomTracks, a developer for security and e-commerce, moved up 1 3/16 to 47 3/4.

Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dropped 2 to 59 15/16. On Wednesday, the server vendor announced a deal to provide equipment to Motorola for developing an open standards backbone network for wireless Internet services. Motorola (NYSE: MOT) fell 15/16 to 83 3/16.

Dell Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) declined 9/16 to 34 15/16, although at the PaineWebber conference yesterday, the company reiterated that it sees no ill effects from a Y2K-related slowdown in corporate spending.

Among other widely held technology stocks, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) moved up 1 to 54 1/8, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) yielded 1 3/8 to 80 15/16, and Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT) fell 1/8 to 64 11/16.>