MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs gain after Microsoft anti-climax

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Techs were keeping the rally alive at midday Thursday, as investors bought back into Microsoft in the aftermath of ruling to split the software giant in two. The Nasdaq edged up 32.80 to 3872.06 and the Dow Jones industrial average shed 139.96 to 10,672.90.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 4 to 490.02.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 1/8 to 70 5/8 as CEO Steve Ballmer vowed to fight the proposed breakup of the company. Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled on a plan would divide the company into two firms, one for its Windows operating system and the other for its application software businesses.

Competing Linux plays were suffering; Red Hat(Nasdaq: RHAT) was down 1 9/16 to 23 3/16 and VA Linux (Nasdaq: LNUX) fell 1/16 to 37 11/16. Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) fell 1/2 to 87 13/16 and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) rose 1 3/4 to 81 3/4.

A couple big deals were driving shares; EarthLink Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK), down 1 3/16 to 16 3/4, announced Thursday it will snap up OneMain.com (Nasdaq: ONEM), up 3 to 11, for about $308 million, in a deal designed to strengthen its coverage of rural communities and smaller cities. Earthlink is still behind AOL (NYSE: AOL), down 1 7/16 to 55 7/16, America's largest ISP.

Inktomi Corp. (Nasdaq: INKT), up 1 1/16 to 129 7/8 said it will buy Ultraseek Corp., a subsidiary of Walt Disney Co.'s GO.com Internet division (NYSE:GO), up 3/16 to 12 1/2 for about $344 million.

In pre-announcements, Great Plains Software, Inc. (Nasdaq: GPSI), down 17 1/4 to 23 1/8 shed 42 percent after it warned earnings for the fourth quarter would be far below expectations due to lower-than-expected revenue.

Merix Corp.(Nasdaq:MERX) shot up 8 3/8 to 40 1/4, or 26 percent, after it said earnings for its fourth quarter should be between 45 and 47 cents a share, well above First Call's expectation of 27 cents a share.

Among other leading tech issues: Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) gained 5/16 to 45 13/16, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) was up 15/16 to 129 7/8 and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) gained 1 5/8 to 64 1/2.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 1 9/16 to 53 3/8 and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) gained 1 5/8 to 146 1/8.