MIDDAY MARKETS: DSL stocks and IBM lead tech plunge

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A DSL implosion, and plunging shares of IBM and RealNetworks hit the Nasdaq at midday Wednesday, but bargain hunters dove in, sustaining the tech-heavy index at a mere 0.99 percent decline. The Nasdaq tumbled 31.97 to 3,181.99 and the Dow Jones industrial average shed 184.61 to 9,905.10.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 5 to 432.57.

Copper Mountain (Nasdaq: CMTN), down 16.69 to 10.19, or 62 percent, and Covad Communications (Nasdaq: COVD), down 4.59 to 4, or 4.59 percent, imploded in early trading Wednesday on disappointing financials, leading to a sharp sell-off of stocks related to digital subscriber line technology. Northpoint (Nasdaq: NPNT) was down 0.75 to 4, Rhythms Netconnections (Nasdaq: RTHM) shed 0.75 to 3, Efficient Networks (Nasdaq: EFNT) lost 11.69 to 33.38, and Turnstone (Nasdaq: TSTN) dropped 15.81 to 21.81.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), up 3.31 to 39.5, whose warning earlier this quarter helped trigger a sell-off in tech stocks, got a mixed reaction after reporting third quarter numbers Tuesday night.

IBM (NYSE: IBM), down 15.75 to 97.25 was downgraded on slowing sales figures. Compaq (NYSE: CPQ) was up 0.51 to 24.26, Dell (NYSE: DELL) rose 2.19 to 26.56 and Gateway (NYSE: GTW) was up 1.65 to 51.47.

Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) rose 20 percent in its first day of trading, after it pricedshares at $13, just above its range of $10 to $12 a share Wednesday. The maker of performance analysis systems for optical/electrical networks was expected to do well, despite adverse market conditions.

PeopleSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: PSFT), up 9.25 to 42, was one of the few gainers on the Nasdaq charts Wednesday; shares rallied 11 percent after the company reported a strong third quarter, announced a repurchase plan and a new CFO, and got some upgrades.

Disappointing fourth quarter guidance outweighed RealNetworks' (Nasdaq: RNWK) satisfying third quarter results; shares were chopped 5.88 to 15.81 as analysts downgraded the stock. WR Hambrecht & Co., however, remained optimistic on the company's long-term prospects.

Broadband services firm Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT), down 5.25 to 50.88, blasted through expectations.

Israeli Internet security company CheckPoint Software (Nasdaq: CHKP), up 16.06 to 163, saw its third-quarter loss widen significantly from the year ago quarter, but managed to easily beat Wall Street estimates Wednesday as third quarter earnings and sales surged amid stronger than expected demand.

Storage firm EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), down 2.69 to 92.25, topped analysts' estimates by a penny for the third quarter Wednesday, as revenue grew 34 percent compared to a year ago.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 0.06 to 22, AOL (NYSE: AOL) gained 2.76 to 46.36 and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) climbed 2.88 to 51.81.

Among other leading tech issues: Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) dropped 1.38 to 53.19, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 2.81 to 39, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was up 0.31 to 50.75, and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) shed 0.19 to 33.5.