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MIDDAY MARKETS: Microsoft boosts techs

Techs were headed north at midday Thursday, powered by Microsoft, which was gaining on reports it may be close to a settlement with the government. The Nasdaq rose 52.11 to 4,901.90, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 33.50 to 10,900.20.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 7 to 670.69.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) surged 6 5/8 to 109 7/8 after the Wall Street Journal said talks between the software company and the government may be winding down. A settlement reportedly wouldn't involve splitting up the company may result. (Nasdaq: ADTM) rose 1 3/8 to 8 3/8 after it mentioned the magic word "China" in a press release Thursday and saw its stock fly up 32 percent.

GST Telecommunications (Nasdaq: GSTX) lost 5/8 to 7 5/8 after it reported a hefty fourth quarter loss Thursday, restated 1999 results, and said its CFO is leaving. (Nasdaq: PPRO) rose 5 63/64 to 128 after it said it should beat first quarter consensus estimates of a loss of 28 cents a share.

Blaze Software (Nasdaq: BLZE) jumped 20 to 36 in debut after it priced shares at $16 each. BreezeCOM (Nasdaq: BRZE) and Iteris (Nasdaq: ITER) had yet to debut.

Compuware (Nasdaq: CPWR) dropped 3 3/16 to 24 1/16 Thursday following a downgrade from Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Chip-based technology company PubliCARD (Nasdaq: CARD) dropped 1 9/16 to 12 15/16 after it said it expected its first-quarter sales to rise 30 percent from the previous period, and announced a broadband initiative.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) shed 3 5/8 to 140 7/16. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) lost 11/16 to 70, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 2 13/16 to 200 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) dropped 1 1/4 to 70 3/4.