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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs hold breath for Fed news

Techs were holding their breath for the Fed's big decision at midday Wednesday. The Nasdaq rose 28.39 to 4,080.37 and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 25.13 to 11,066.18.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 7 to 558.15.

Stocks advanced cautiously at midday as investors were hesitant to bet right before the 2:14 PM EST, when the Federal Reserve Open Committee is scheduled to announce its decision on interest rates. Only a half-percentage-point increase is likely to spook the market now, as expectation of a quarter-percentage-point boost is already built in. The Fed kept the federal funds rate at 5.50 percent at its last meeting on Dec. 21.

In IPO news, Wireless player Telaxis Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: TLXS) jumped 35 to 52 in its debut.

A trickle of earnings continued, as Business Objects (Nasdaq: BOBJ) easily beat Wall Street consensus estimates with fourth quarter earnings of $9.5 million, or 23 cents a share. Its shares put on 6 7/8 to 82 1/8.

Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) rose 1/2 to 42 3/8 after it met Wall Street estimates Tuesday with a fourth quarter operating profit of $29.4 million, or 4 cents a share, on sales of $1.16 billion. Qwest reported a profit of a penny a share in the year-ago quarter.

Inso Corp (Nasdaq: INSO), a publishing software maker, was cut in half, falling 19 1/2 to 15 3/4 after Banc of America cuts it to "market performer" from "buy." The company also announced Tuesday it was it has retaining Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to explore strategic alternatives, including the potential sale of the company

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch (Nasdaq: TMCS) fell 9/32 to 35 31/32 after it said it would buy 2b Technology, a privately held ticketing firm for about $23 million. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 2 1/8 to 69 9/16 ahead of its quarterly report slated for tonight, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 7 13/16 to 325 3/16 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 2 5/16 to 58 3/16.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) lost 1/16 to 38 7/8, Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) fell 5/16 to 28 3/16 and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) rose 3 to 113.