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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs retreat

Techs went sour at midday Thursday, joining blue-chips in decline as interest rate worries got the better of them again. The Nasdaq lost 37.48 to 4,512.85, and the Dow Jones industrial average shed 214.69 to 10,011.04.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index lost 7 to 613.81.

After gaining earlier in the day despite Dow losses, the Nasdaq began to retreat in late morning trading.

Thursday's economic goods included the release of weekly initial claims, which fell 7,000 to 278,000. January durable goods orders were also reported. They declined 1.3 percent, a bit less than the 1.5 percent drop expected, but not enough to convince investors that demand for American-made goods is slowing down.

The morning's big gainer was Transaction Systems Architects (Nasdaq: TSAI), which rose 16 9/16 to 44 5/16, or 60 percent after an analyst praised its plans to leverage its infrastructure business in the electronic payments business.

Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) lost 1 7/8 to 86 9/16, after the interactive entertainment software company said it will buy multimedia developer DreamWorks Interactive.

On the earnings front, the continuing success of Safeguard Scientifics' (NYSE: SFE) spin-offs and investor subscription programs led the company to profit $2.09 a share in its fourth quarter. Shares fell 4 5/8 to 151 5/8.

CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI) was off 6 3/16 to 114 and Internet Capital Group (Nasdaq: ICGE) fell 2 3/8 to 116 7/8.

Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU), slated to report after the bell, was up 2 13/16 to 70 3/8. VA Linux Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LNUX), also reporting, fell 3 5/16 to 123 13/16. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) fell 3/4 to 93 1/2. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) was up 3 9/16 to 112 5/8.

News that China has postponed deployment of a new type of mobile telecommunications that relies on technology from the United States' Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), reported in The Wall Street Journal, sent shares down 7 percent, or 10 11/16 to 136 3/16. Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 3 9/16 to 66 7/8, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 5 9/64 to 161 1/16, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 1 3/4 to 60 1/16. Other notables included Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL), up 13/16 to 42 3/16, Compaq (NYSE: CPQ), up 3/16 to 25 3/8, and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), which lost 5 23/64 to 133 17/64.