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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs push Nasdaq higher

Techs continued to bounce back Friday, as a benign CPI report put investors in a buying mood. The Nasdaq rose 75.10 to 4,792.49, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 65.77 to 10696.37.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 19 to 649.10.

The consumer price index, which measures inflation at the consumer level, climbed 0.5 percent in February, excluding food and energy costs. The gain was slightly higher than expected, though the overall increase was on target with forecasts of a 0.2 percent gain.

The data was good news to investors trying to gauge how much the Federal Reserve Bank may raise interest rates. The Fed is expected to raise them this Tuesday.

On the IPO front, Netpliance (Nasdaq: NPLI) priced shares at $18 apiece, showing strong demand for a company with virtually no revenue. Integrated Information Systems also priced at $15 a share.

Universal Access (Nasdaq: UAXS), a telecommunications company that buys and sells unused network capacity, gained 15 13/16 to 29 13/16.

Caldera Systems (Proposed ticker: CALD), which had planned to debut Friday, raised its IPO price range and will trade Tuesday.

Telecommunications chip maker Applied Micro Circuits (Nasdaq: AMCC) gained 16 15/16 to 264, or 7 percent Friday following an upgrade from Merrill Lynch.

OSI Systems (Nasdaq: OSIS) surged 128 percent, or 13 15/16 to 24 13/16 Friday, ignited by news that the company had developed a silicon-based fiber optic detector, which can achieve a 2.5 Gigabit per second data rate.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), the most active stock on the Nasdaq, rose 1 11/16 to 97 1/16. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) was close behind on volume, up 1 1/4 to 56 1/4. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) was up 2 ? to 127 13/16. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) lost 53/64 to 65 27/64, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 5 1/4 to 175 7/16 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 1 15/16 to 63 15/16.