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MIDDAY MARKETS: Semiconductors gain, techs tumble

The Nasdaq lost ground again at midday Tuesday, despite strong gains among semiconductor stocks. The Nasdaq shed 3.82 to 3,845.87 and the Dow Jones industrial average sank 107.68 to 11,068.46.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 7 to 481.36.

Semiconductor makers were getting some lift following comments from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Atmel (Nasdaq: ATML) was up 2 31/32 to 32 9/32, Conexant (Nasdaq: CNXT) rose 2 1/4 to 30 13/16 and Rambus (Nasdaq: RMBS) rose 4 5/16 to 81 1/4.

Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT), up 1 1/2 to 23 5/16, got a boost Tuesday from news it has entered deals with Motorola (NYSE: MOT), down 5/16 to 35 7/16 and IBM (NYSE: IBM), down 2 1/4 to 121.

On the IPO front, Lexar (Nasdaq: LEXR), a maker of digital film, priced 6.5 million shares at $8 a piece, well below their range of $10 to $12 a share. Synquest (Nasdaq: SYNQ) priced 5 million shares at $7 each.

America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL), up 3/4 to 53 3/4, got good reviews from analysts Tuesday regarding both its new software and its proposed merger with Time-Warner (NYSE: TWX). Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 1 1/16 to 133 7/16, and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) was up 1 29/32 to 36 25/32.

Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT), up 7/16 to 79 11/16, will acquire Sonoma Systems in a stock deal worth $540 million.

Among other leading tech issues: Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) fell 7/16 to 66 1/2, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) fell 1/16 to 72 1/8, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell 13/16 to 63 11/16 and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) rose 1/8 to 82 1/2.