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Midday Markets: Techs in Fed holding pattern

Techs continued to cower before the omnipotent Federal Reserve, which had yet to announce its decision on an interest rate hike at midday Wednesday. The Nasdaq slipped 9.39 to 2,632.72, while the Dow Jones industrial average backed down 31.35 to 10,784.00.

Inter@ctive Week's @Net Index inched up 1.18 to 304.

As the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee finishes off their two day meeting, speculation over the number of interest rate increases that may ensue still have no Alan Greenspan fodder to go on.

More substantial economic indicators include the index of leading economic indicators announced by the Conference Board Wednesday. The index rose 0.3 percent in May, compared to a drop of 0.1 percent in April, indicating a healthy economy is set to grow at a more than 2.5 percent annual pace.

Among stocks in the news today, CMGI was still stirring things up, rising 4 1/8 to 114 7/16 after buying 83 percent of AltaVista from Compaq Computer, down 1/16 to 23 5/16.

America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) fell 9/16 to 105 7/16 after announcing a marketing pact with eMachines Inc. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 3/4 to 116 13/16 and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) gained 1 1/16 to 161 1/16. Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) lost 1 15/16 to 93, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK) shed 1/4 to 46, Excite At Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), jumped 2 to 53 15/16, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG), added 1 3/8 to 45 1/4.

Qwest Communications International Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST) rose 9/16 to 33 7/16 after Frontier Corp. (NYSE: FRO), up 9/16 to 58 11/16 agreed to discuss its $12.3 billion takeover offer.

The IPO's of ShowCase Corp. (Nasdaq: SHWC), up 1/32 to 9 1/32 and Network Plus (Nasdaq; NPLS), rocketing 11 7/8 to 27 7/8, were just beginning to make noise. Recent debuts Inc. (Nasdaq: MAIL), was up 5 15/16 to 18 7/8, and Digital Island, up 5 1/4 to 17 1/8, continued to gain ground.

Semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT), up 2 3/4 to 71 7/8, was also a big price gainer.

As underwater telecommunications giants come under anti-trust scrutiny, MCI Worldcom (Nasdaq: WCOM), fell 5 11/16 to 87 15/16, while AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) fell 13/16 to 54 13/16.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) rose 7/16 to 62 15/16 after announcing said Tuesday it will buy buy StratumOne Communications Inc.. 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) dropped 1/4 to 26 7/8 and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) picked up 1/16 to 66 3/4.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) fell 5/8 to 36 1/2, and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dipped 5/16 to 66 3/16.

Among PC-related issues: Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) rose 1/8 to 59 15/16, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) dropped 1/4 to 36 7/16, and Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) added 9/16 to 45 15/16. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) jumped 1 13/16 to 126 7/16.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), down 3/4 down to 58 1/2, is set to square off with Taiwanese tiny Via Technologies Inc., which bought National Semiconductor's Cyrix unit.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) shed 7/8 to 87 1/8 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) dropped 5/16 to17 3/4.