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MIDDAY MARKETS: Earnings enthusiasm lifts techs

Earnings continued to drive techs into the green at midday Thursday, as expectations of Dell's earnings report, and good news from telecom giant MCI Worldcom lifted stocks. The Nasdaq rose 50.65 to 4,413.89, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 10.86 to 10,710.02.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 5 to 598.68.

The broader markets were faltering as bonds weakened, and nervousness about the interest rate outlook soured strong earnings reports. Treasury prices fell, with the benchmark 30-year bond losing 3/32 of a point in price.

Investors were nevertheless focused on the latest batch of earnings, bidding Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) up 1 5/16 to 36 7/8 ahead of its quarterly report, expected after the bell. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) shed 3/8 to 30 1/2 and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) lost 1 9/16 to 114 3/16.

MCI WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM) jumped 2 13/16 to 50 15/16 after it posted a fourth-quarter profit of 42 cents a share Thursday, topping First Call's expected profit of 41 cents a share. Sprint (NYSE: FON) was up 2 15/16 to 65 13/16.

Network Solutions (Nasdaq: NSOL), which registers Internet domain names, gained 32 to 288 after ittopped Wall Street estimates Thursday with fourth quarter earnings of $9 million, or 25 cents a share, on sales of $75.9 million.

IPOs were already opening; Cypress Communications (Nasdaq: CYCO), popped up 4 to 21. The company, which offers local and long distance voice, Web access, e-mail and other services to businesses in office buildings, priced its 10 million shares at $17 each.

E-business consulting company Organic (Nasdaq: OGNC) leapt 31 3/4 to 51 3/4 after it priced 5.5 million shares at $20 each, the top of their range of $18 to $20 a share for trading Thursday. The original estimated range had been $12 to $14 a share.

Witness Systems (Nasdaq: WITS) priced its 3.8 million shares at $20 each, but had yet to debut.

Wireless data company Aether Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: AETH) lost 5 5/8 after it said it would buy privately held Riverbed Technologies, Inc., a leader in mobile computing software products for about $800 million.

Internet incubator CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI), which runs a network of more than 60 different firms including AltaVista, lost 5 1/4 to 115 1/4 when it said it will acquire auction site uBid (Nasdaq: UBID), up 2 15/16 to 29 5/8, in a deal valued at $407 million.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) fell 9/16 to 103 7/16. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 2 5/8 to 77 5/8, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 2 5/16 to 359 3/8, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 1/4 to 58.