MIDDAY MARKETS: Nasdaq tops 3,000, sees clear economic outlook

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Techs pierced the 3,000 mark again at midday Wednesday, as economic news cast a positive forecast on inflation, and a few deals kicked stocks in to a mild rally. The Nasdaq rose 54.29 to 3,035.92 and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 33.64 to 10,615.48.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index leapt 6 to 362.49.

Economic news came in with a rosy outlook for inflation; U.S. factory orders fell 0.9 percent in September, further than expected. It was the index's first drop in five months, as orders for transportation products plunged. The conference board also said its index of leading indicators slipped 0.1 percent, a little more than the flat reading economists had expected.

Be Free (Nasdaq: BFRE) took off, rising 20 3/8 to 32 3/8, or 170 percent after it priced its 5.6 million shares at $12 each.

Nice Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: NICE) rose 2 3/16 to 36 1/4 after it reported earnings Wednesday of 46 cents a share for its third quarter, topping First Call's expectation of 43 cents a share.

Winstar Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: WCII), up 1 5/16 to 42 5/16, racked up a third quarter net loss of $179 million, or $3.28 a share, but handily beat First Call's expected loss of $3.44 a share.

Commerce One (Nasdaq: CMRC) revved up 20 percent, or 40 7/16 to 247 1/2 Wednesday on news of a deal with General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) to link its suppliers, dealers and other businesses in a "virtual marketplace" for products, raw materials, parts and services.

Oracle Corp (Nasdaq: ORCL) was up 3 3/4 to 56 3/4, or 7 percent after it and Ford Motor Co (NYSE: F) announced a joint venture to create an Internet network linking the No. 2 U.S. automaker with its 30,000 suppliers Tuesday.

Xoom.com Inc. (Nasdaq: XMCM), up 1 3/16 to 64 15/16 has scheduled a meeting Nov. 24 for stockholders to vote on the proposed NBC Internet, Inc. (NBCi) transactions that have been in the works since May.

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 1 to 67 7/16, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) jumped 2 1/8 to 180 1/8 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) grew 2 3/4 to 135 7/8.

Recent Dow addition Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 5/16 to 92 7/8, and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) sank 1 3/16 to 93 5/8.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) rose 1 3/8 to 42 9/16, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) added 1/16 to 19.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) jumped ? to 73 3/4 and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) rose 21/32 to 65 5/16.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) hopped 2 3/16 to 79 5/8.