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MIDDAY MARKETS: Oracle drags, Microsoft and IPOs gain

Microsoft's gains and some strong IPOs couldn't keep techs out of the red at midday Wednesday. The Nasdaq shed 13.71 to 3,999.65 and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 14.85 to 10,420.31.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 2 to 505.93.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was the most active gainer on the Nasdaq, rising 4 5/16 to 79 1/4 after news Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson agreed to hold off on a series of business, and the stock got an upgrade from CIBC World Markets. Red Hat (nasdaq: RHAT) was up 3 1/16 to 33 1/4.

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), the second most actively-traded stock, was down 2 19/64 to 83 3/4 after its fourth quarter earnings revealed slower sales after Tuesday's bell.

Handspring (Nasdaq: HAND) jumped 7 9/16 to 27 9/16 in debut, after it priced shares of its initial public offering at $20 each for trading Wednesday.

China Unicom (NYSE: CHU) rose 4 7/16 to 24 1/8 as the Beijing-based company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange.

Virata (Nasdaq: VRTA), up 4 1/4 to 54 1/4 announced strong revenue in its first quarter, the acquisition of a privately-held company, and plans for a secondary offering.

Hall, Kinion & Associates, Inc. (Nasdaq: HAKI) jumped 16 percent Wednesday after announcing second quarter results will be higher than estimates.

Procom Technology (Nasdaq: PRCM), shot up 50 percent Wednesday, or 20 1/4 to 62 1/2; the only news about the data-supplier was the release of a revised software product.

Speculation is mounting that the European Commission may block a $115 billion merger between U.S. carriers MCI WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM), down 1 13/16 to 39 7/8 and Sprint Corp (NYSE: FON), down 13/16 to 59 5/16 , but the watchdog insisted on Wednesday such talk was premature.

Among other leading tech issues: Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell 7/8 to 66 1/4, Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) fell 2 35/64 to 94 33/64 and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) lost 1 1/16 to 137 1/4. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) lost 1/8 to 46, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 4 5/8 to 143 3/8 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) dropped 3/8 to 57 1/2.