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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs recover on earnings news

Techs were recovering from Tuesday's profit-taking at midday Wednesday, soothed by steady earnings reports. The Nasdaq rose 23.46 to 2,755.64, while the Dow Jones industrial average gained 3.80 to 11,999.93.

Inter@ctive Week's @Net Index added 5.93 to 306.

Earnings reports filled with upside surprises fueled the tech comeback. IBM and Microsoft both bounced back from yesterday's lows, and healthy gains were made across the board.

In economic news, the Commerce Department said housing starts for June fell 5.6 percent to an annualized rate of 1.571 million units, a dramatic drop that indicates the slowest home-building rate in more than a year. Rising mortgage rates and the rise in U.S. interest rates were blamed for eroding demand for housing and slowing down construction.

Among IPOs today, Hoovers Inc. (Nasdaq: HOOV) made a great 112 percent start, up 15 3/4 to 29 3/4. Inc. (Nasdaq: MPPP) took off, up 55 11/16 to 83 11/16 in intial trading after it raised its asking price to $28.

US Search (Nasdaq: SRCH) rose 13 percent, slowing down slightly at a rise of 1 5/16 to 15 1/4 at midday after analysts and Yahoo! welcomed the leading Internet public record provider.

Bell Atlantic's (NYSE: BEL), up 1 to 66 3/16, said second quarter earnings were on target.In other telecom news, Cincinnati Bell (NYSE: CSN), down 3 15/16 to 19 5/8, said Wednesday it had agreed to buy telecommunications service provider IXC Communications (Nasdaq: IIXC), up 2 1/2 to 38 3/4, for $2.2 billion in stock.

LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI), up 1/16 to 50 5/16, said Wednesday second quarter earnings were 21 cents a share, beating First Calls' expectation of 18 cents a share.

EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), up 3 3/4 to 63 13/16, a provider of enterprise data storage systems, also hurdled estimates.

Other tech notables reporting earnings included (Nasdaq: MKTW), down 1 5/8 to 48 1/8, Spyglass, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPYG) even at 17, and NCR Corp. (NYSE: NCR), down 11/16 to 48 3/8.

Internet stocks were also strong. Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) grew 5 3/16 to 147 5/16. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) gained 6 1/2 to 126 5/8 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) added 3 3/4 to 116 15/16 ahead of their earnings reports.

Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) increased 3 3/4 to 99 9/16, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), jumped 15/16 to 40 15/16, on strong sales, Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), added 1 3/8 to 46 7/16 after meeting estimates. and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG) added 5/8 to 45.

Shares of RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK) spiked 11 percent to 86 5/8 after the company broke even in its latest quarter.

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) recovered 7/8 to 129 1/8. Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) fell 5/8 to 66 3/4, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) added 5/8 to 41 3/4, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) gained 3/4 to 26 3/8. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) also moved up, 2 1/8 to 55.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was back up 1 11/16 to 95. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) gained 15/16 to 65 7/8, while Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) gained 1/4 to 17.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) added 1 9/16 to 63 13/16. 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) shed 1/4 to 26 5/8, and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) fell 1/16 to 69 7/8.