Midday Markets: Techs creep higher

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Techs crept higher at midday on Tuesday as Wall Street walked on eggshells awaiting the Federal Reserve's verdict on interest rates. The Nasdaq added 7 to 2,569 and the @Net dipped 1 to 326. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38 to 10,891.

Stocks treaded gingerly into positive territory ahead of the Federal Reserve's announcement on interest rates set for 2:15 p.m. EDT. Earlier this morning, housing starts for April dropped 10.1 percent, reported the Commerce Department. Housing starts kicked off this year at a 12-year high and carried forward because of mild weather that aided construction. The drop is likely regressing back to historic levels.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) slipped 2 3/8 to 135 1/4 after buying a 35 percent interest in Homegrocer.com for $42.5 million. On Monday, the online retailer announced a 50 percent discount on books on the New York Times best sellers list, which Barnes & Noble Inc.'s (NYSE: BKS) online unit quickly matched.

Books-a-million Inc. (Nasdaq: BAMM) jumped 22 percent, up 1 31/32 to 10 11/16 after the book seller cut its prices on NYT best sellers 55 percent, and trimmed prices on other books as well.

America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) dipped 3/4 to 135 3/8 and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) lost 3 15/16 to 157 7/8.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP) gained 6 to 94 3/4 after the company topped second quarter expectations. Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), which reports after the bell, added 3/4 to 44. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) climbed 3/8 to 26 3/8 and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) rose 1 to 238 1/2.

Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) climbed 3 3/8 to 111 7/8 ahead of its third quarter results. Shares of CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI), its largest shareholder, dropped 2 1/8 to 246 1/4.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) slipped 2 3/8 to 106 3/8. Qualcomm said it would meet or exceed third quarter estimates in response to concerns about the company's Korean business.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) lost 9/16 to 58 7/8 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) added 3/8 to 19 1/2.

Among software makers, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 7/16 to 79 9/16 and Computer Associates International Inc. (NYSE: CA) gained 1 1/16 to 42 11/16.