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Midday Markets: Techs post modest gains

Techs were taking it easy at midday Thursday after yesterday's frenzy following the interest rate news. The Nasdaq inched up 15.86 to 2,701.98, while the Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.00 to 11,008.80

Inter@ctive Week's @Net Index rose 5 to 317.

The markets took a breather following yesterday's rally on the Federal Reserve's surprise announcement it had changed its policy bias from tightening to neutral, indicating it is unlikely to boost rates again in the near future.

In economic news, the National Association of Purchasing Management's June manufacturing survey rose well above Wall Street's forecast of 54.5. It was up to 57.0 from May's 55.2. Any figure above 50 correlates to an expanding manufacturing sector.

The Federal Communications Commission is joining the Justice Department in its antitrust investigation of the undersea cable business. Both departments are responding to charges by Global Crossing Ltd.(Nasdaq: GBLX), down 5/8 to 42, that a consortia led by AT&T Corp.(NYSE: T), up 1 15/16, MCI Worldcom Corp. (Nasdaq: WCOM), up 2 1/16 to 88 1/8, and Sprint Corp.(NYSE: FON), down 1 to 52, are preventing international calling rates from going down.

In other tech news, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), down 7/16 to 89 3/4, is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting practices.

An onslaught of high tech IPOs stormed in; Clarent (Nasdaq: CLRN), rocketed up 99 percent, adding 14 15/16 to 29 15/16. Primus Knowledge Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: PKSI) gained 6 15/1617 to 15/16, a 63.07 percent rise, while Ask Jeeves (Nasdaq: ASKJ) had yet to debut.

Among newsworthy stocks today, Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY), down 3/16 to 67 5/16, and Prodigy Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: PRGY), down 25/32 to 25 3/32, are the latest to announce they're giving rebates on PCs in exchange for Internet plan sign-ups. Other PC-related issue Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) dropped 1 9/16 to 57 1/2, while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) shed 5/16 to 36 11/16. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) fell 1/4 to 23 7/16, and Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) dropped 3/4 to 45 9/16.IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) dropped 3/16 to 129 1/16.

CompUSA Inc. (NYSE: CPU) rose 5/16 to 73/4 after it announced sales in its fourth quarter rose.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) tacked on 1 9/16 to 61 1/16 while Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) fell 1/2 to 17 9/16.

CNet Inc. (Nasdaq: CNET), down 5 9/16 to 52 1/16, said it will report net losses for the year as it launches a $100 million-plus multimedia advertising campaign.

Shares of Books-A-Million (Nasdaq: BAMM),up 6 29/32 to 14 7/16, skyrocketed as high 99 percent Thursday after an agreement with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), down 3/8 to 47 7/8, was announced.

Lycos, Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), up 7 1/16 to 98 15/16, announced doubleheader deals.

VerticalNet Inc. (Nasdaq: VERT) rose 12 7/8 to 117 7/8 after it said it acquired three new Web site Communities. iVillage Inc. (Nasdaq: IVIL), shed 1 3/4 to 48 1/2 after buying Online Psychological Services Inc. to strengthen its health-related sites.

Net bellwethers Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) shot up 5 3/4 to 178, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 1 3/16 to 123 15/16, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) added 4 to 114. Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), gained 1 3/16 to 49 1/8, Excite At Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), rose 1 9/16 to55 1/2, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG), was up 1 7/8 to 46 3/16.

CMGI Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) fell 13/16 to 113 1/4.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) gained 1/16 to 64 1/2. 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) added 1/2 to 27 3/16 and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) picked up 3/4 to 68 3/16.

Communications-equipment provider e-Net Inc. (Nasdaq: ETEL) fell 9/16 to 4 3/16 after it reported a fourth-quarter loss of $3 million.

Komag Inc. (Nasdaq: KMAG) fell 5/32 to 3 5/32 as it became the latest disk-drive related company to warn that its second quarter results are going to be much worse than previously anticipated. Its shares closed up 1/8 to 3 5/16 ahead of the warning. Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: SEG) gained back 1/16 to 26 11/16.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) fell 1/2 to 36 5/8, and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dipped I to 67 7/8.