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MIDDAY MARKETS: Political uncertainty foils gains

Markets rallied early Friday after a ruling which would aid George W. Bush's campaign for the presidency, but sunk into the red again by midday. The Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 50.16 to 2,981.72 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 48.15 to 10,607.88.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 4 to 381.49.

The political uncertainty which have been keeping stocks down over the past week looked as if it was about to be resolved Friday at 10 am EST when a state judge ruled that Florida's secretary of state didn't have to include votes being manually recounted in two counties. But news that Al Gore's team would appeal the decision and a sent stocks back to lower levels.

Verisign (Nasdaq: VRSN), down 13.06 to 104.88, fell 5 percent, while (Nasdaq: RCOM) edged down just 0.25 to 7.625 after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ruled how many new top-level domain names should be created.

Williams Communications (NYSE: WCG), down 0.06 to 15.81, said late Thursday its board has authorized a tax-free spinoff of the business to shareholders of Williams' (NYSE: WMB), up 0.06 to 41.75.

BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), down 6.38 to 42.88, fell 13 percent Friday after it said the expansion of its high-speed Internet business and its Latin American wireless operations would slow profit growth.

Internet retailer (Nasdaq: COOL), down 0.41 to 1.66, announced Friday that Robert Bowman has resigned as Chief Executive and will be replaced by current CFO Katherine Vick.

According to an analyst at Robertson Stephens, CheckFree's (Nasdaq: CKFR), up 2.31 to 56.87, domination of electronic bill payment and presentment market will be stronger as competition wanes.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 0.5 to 28.31, AOL (NYSE: AOL) gained 0.77 to 49.62 and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 1.06 to 51.875.

Among other leading tech issues: Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO)rose 1.31 to 52.38, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 0.69 to 40.69, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was up 0.19 to 69.13, and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) gained 1 to 28.38.