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MIDDAY MARKETS: Japan&#039s downturn hits techs

Japan's downturn took its toll on techs in the early going Monday, though bargain hunters boosted stocks as the morning progressed.

At midday, the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 100.25 to 4948.37, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 9.31 to 9,919.51.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 18 to 656.62.

News that the world's second largest economy had contracted at a 1.4 percent rate between October and December, officially making it in recession, sent blue-chips and techs into a slump Monday. The Nasdaq pared its losses from an earlier dip of over 4 percent in the morning, but remained far below Friday's close despite the day's slew of deals.

In the largest software deal ever, i2 Technologies (Nasdaq: ITWO), down 16 11/16 to 191 5/16, said it would acquire Aspect Development (Nasdaq: ASDV), up 12 to 97, in a stock swap valued at $9.3 billion.

StarMedia Networks (Nasdaq: STRM) fell 16 1/4 to 33 3/4, or 32 percent Monday after the Internet portal for Spanish- and Portuguese speakers got a couple of downgrades.

Alloy Online Inc. (Nasdaq: ALOY), a U.S.-based direct marketer to youth, rose 15/16 to 16 1/4 after it said Internet media firm Liberty Digital is buying a $54 million stake in it.

Business-to-business software developer Commerce One (Nasdaq: CMRC) rose 4 3/16 to 261 3/4 after it said it would split its stock 2-for-1.

CDNow (Nasdaq: CDNW), down 1 3/16 to 8 1/4, said its merger with Columbia House is off. The company is looking for other buyers.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) lost 2 9/16 to 98 7/16. Microsoft and Andersen Consulting agreed Monday to a $1 billion pact to form a joint venture and expand their range of services an technologies based on the Windows 2000 operating system.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 2 15/16 to 123 1/8. Robertson Stephens analyst Dan Niles upgraded Intel to "strong buy" from a "buy" rating.

Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) was up 1 5/8 to 30 3/16pulling out of an earlier slump after it launched its new broadband portal for high-speed access customers and received some positive comments from an analyst. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 2 1/8 to 64 3/4, and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) lost 3 3/16 to 174 1/4.