Midday Markets: Techs slide

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Techs lost ground at midday on Wednesday on continued interest rate hike woes. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 45 to 2,366 and the @Net Index fell 13 to 269. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 120 to 10,475, down 1.12 percent.

Stocks slid at midday on concerns that an interest rate hike may be imminent. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is scheduled to speak later this afternoon. The central bank meets June 29 and 30 to discuss monetary policy. At its May 18 meeting, the Fed left rates unchanged at 4.25 percent, though it indicated a "bias" towards raising rates.

A rise in interest rates makes it more expensive for businesses to borrow money, hindering growth as well as increasing operating costs. Also, higher interest rates favor bonds as an investment, since yields tend to rise along with the Fed's overnight borrowing rate.

It was a bad day to have bad news. AdForce Inc. (Nasdaq: ADFC) fell 8 3/8 to 20 9/16 after the company lost GeoCities as a client. GeoCities represented 17 percent of AdForce's revenue last month.

At Home Corp. (Nasdaq: ATHM) slid 10 1/6 to 107 1/2 after completing its merger with Excite Inc. (Nasdaq: XCIT) on Tuesday.

Banyan Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BNYN) climbed 1 5/16 to 11 7/8 after CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) said it would take a 35 percent stake in Banyan Systems Inc.'s Switchboard Web site.

Barnesandnoble.com Inc. (Nasdaq: BNBN) lost 3 1/8 to 16 7/8 after its parent dropped plans to buy Ingram Book Group. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) slid 6 11/16 to 99 1/8.

Online brokerages lost ground a second day after Merrill Lynch announced plans to offer its broker services on the Internet. E*Trade Group Inc. (Nasdaq: EGRP) fell 3 15/16 to 35 1/8 and Ameritrade Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: AMTD) dropped 9 7/8 to 107 11/16.

Marimba Inc. (Nasdaq: MRBA) dropped 11 7/8 to 45 1/2 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, one of its underwriters, began coverage with a "neutral" rating.

Starmedia Network Inc. (Nasdaq: STRM) dropped 15 15/16 to 45 1/4. Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) slid 7 3/16 to 131 after buying Online Anywhere. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) declined 6 7/8 to 106 1/4.

Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) lost 1 5/16 to 31 3/4. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) dropped 2 to 110 and Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) declined 1 1/2 to 58 5/16.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) added 1/4 to 50 15/16 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) dropped 1/2 to 18 1/16.

Among software makers, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) dropped 2 to 76 1/2 and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) gained 3 /16 to 25 11/16.