MIDDAY MARKETS: Tech rally continues

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Techs continued to bounce back Friday, as benign employment data and a batch of IPOs put investors in a buying mood. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 118.29 to 4,385.85, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 20.79 to 11,135.06.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 19 to 598.19.

Techs celebrated news that the March unemployment rate of 4.1 percent was higher than expected, easing fears that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at an even steeper rate. Job creation surged in a seasonal anomaly, while average hourly earnings, which measure wage inflation, gained only slightly.

Two prominent Healtheon/WebMD Corp. (Nasdaq: HLTH) directors gave the company a vote of confidence Friday by requesting to purchase flagging shares on the open market. Shares rose 7 5/16 to 29, or 34 percent.

Safeguard Scientifics Inc. (NYSE: SFE) jumped 15 percent, or 8 1/4 to 58 3/4 Friday as a batch of analysts kicked off coverage of the stock with bullish ratings.

Net stocks were recovering from the week's earlier volatility, with Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) up 2 1/2 to 156 1/2, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) up 1 7/8 to 66 3/4. Go2Net (Nasdaq: GNET) gained 4 1/14 to 72 11/16. Go2Net president John Keister said the company is comfortable with estimates for its fiscal second quarter ending March 31.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 2 1/2 to 66 3/4.

On the IPO front, Learning e-market software firm Saba Software (Nasdaq: SABA) priced 4 million shares at $15 a piece, above its range of $12 to $14 a share.

Numerical Technologies (Nasdaq: NMTC), up 11 1/2 to 25 1/2, LivePerson (Nasdaq: LPSN), up 2 1/2 to 10 1/16 and Opus 360 (Nasdaq: OPUS), up 3 to 13 were all also gaining in their IPO debuts.

GoAmerica (Nasdaq: GOAM), a provider of wireless Internet access, priced its 10 million shares at $16 each for trading Friday.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 1/16 to 86 1/16. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) was up 5 1/16 to 134 7/8.