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MIDDAY MARKETS: Oracle and Juniper lead decline

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A downgrade for networking-equipment companies and a key executive's departure from Oracle sent the Nasdaq plummeting at midday Monday. The Nasdaq lost 135.31 to 2891.88, or 4.47 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average shed 144.47 to 10,485.40.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 23 to 361.78.

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) shed 4 to 24.81, or 14 percent Monday after the company lost executive vice president Gary L. Bloom. Among other leading tech issues Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 0.19 to 41.69 and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was down 2.56 to 66.5.

Shares of Juniper (Nasdaq: JNPR) down 25.5 to 129.88, or 16 percent, and other networking-equipment companies fell on a downgrade from a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. analyst who said demand for their products may slow. Redback Networks Nasdaq: RBAK), down 10.06 to 70.69, was downgraded to "outperform" from "strong buy," Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), down 2.31 to 50.44, was maintained at a "strong buy," but had its target lowered to $75 from $90. Brocade Communications (Nasdaq: BRCD) was down 19.19 to 201 and Extreme Networks (Nasdaq: EXTR) fell 7.75 to 65.56.

Northpoint Communications (Nasdaq: NPNT), down 0.63 to 3.5, fell Monday as the company revised previously announced third quarter results because more customers can't pay the bills.

Shares of Internet services provider Earthlink (Nasdaq: ELNK) were up 1 to 8.13 on news of a broadband deal with Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), down 2.07 to 70.88.

Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) slipped down 1.06 to 29.31 after losing a lawsuit to Xilinx Inc. (Nasdaq: XLNX), down 2.06 to 61.19.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 2.06 to 25.38, AOL (NYSE: AOL) dropped 1.63 to 47.93 and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 3.06 to 48.19.