MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs hang on

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The Nasdaq hung on to early gains at midday Thursday, as technology stocks try to shake the post-Cisco blues. The Nasdaq rose 2.07 points to 2,609.89, while the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 4.95 points to 10,941.77.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index moved up 5 points to 282.29.

Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget initiated coverage of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) by cutting the long-term rating on the company to "accumulate" and questioning the company's ability to dominate the Internet marketplace. Microsoft shares dipped $1.19 to $63.50.

WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM), up $0.63 to $20.75, met analysts' reduced estimates for its fourth quarter and said it expects full-year revenue growth of between 12 percent and 15 percent for fiscal 2001.

Shares of Nice Systems (Nasdaq: NICE) fell over 21 percent, down $4.00 to $14.50, after the company said it would slash 20 percent of its work force, and restate some past revenue after discovering improperly reported sales.

KPMG Consulting is expected to brave rough financial markets with its IPO, the biggest tech-related public offering in nearly 10 months.

High-speed wireless data network operator Metricom (Nasdaq: MCOM) dropped almost 37 percent, down $3.81 to $ 6.56, after the company said it would postpone introducing its service in some markets until it secures more funding.

General Semiconductor (NYSE: SEM), off $0.08 to $9.57, matched analysts' forecasts for fourth-quarter profits, but reduced earnings targets for the first quarter and announced job cuts.

Among widely held technology issues, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) slipped $0.19 to $30.88, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) rose $0.25 to $35.19, and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) moved up $0.19 to $27.88.

AOL (NYSE: AOL) rose $1.12 to $49.32 and Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) lost $0.44 to $33.00.