MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs surge on employment data

3 min read

Cobalt Networks' IPO provided the thunder to techs' lightning at midday Friday, as online brokerages bolted ahead, and a positive economic outlook boosted the market overall. The Nasdaq rose 43.02 to 3,098.97 and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 107.66 to 10,747.30

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index leapt 9 to 380.14.

The markets enjoyed a broad rally thanks to October payroll data that market strategists said soothes investor worries about inflation and interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisitics, October non-farm payrols grew 310,000, a level below market expections.

In IPO action, Cobalt Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: COBT) blasted up 120 5/16 to 142 5/16, or 546 percent in its debut. Online grocer Webvan (Nasdaq: WBVN) had yet to debut after it priced 25 million shares at $15 a pop, above their estimated range.

Investors paid no attention to the caution of Credit Suisse First Boston's new Internet brokerage analyst James Marks as he issued "hold" ratings on three online brokers. Marks' rating of "strong buy" on TD Waterhouse Group Inc.(NYSE: TWE) and National Discount Brokers Group Inc. (NYSE: NDB) did add some fuel to the rally.

NDB was up 5 5/16 to 34 15/16, or 20 percent, and TD Waterhouse was up 2 9/16 to 15 5/16, or 20 percent. DLJ Direct (NYSE: DIR) was up 12 percent, or 1 7/8 to 18 1/8, while Ameritrade (Nasdaq: AMTD) was up 11 percent, or 2 1/8 to 21 3/16, Charles Schwab (NYSE SCH) was up 0.3 percent, or 1/8 to 42 1/8 and E*Trade (Nasdaq: EGRP) was up 7 percent, or 2 1/16 to 33 7/16.

Heavy marketing expenses led to a hefty loss for iVillage's (Nasdaq: IVIL) third quarter, the company announced Friday. The loss was narrower than the $1.39 a share predicted by First Call, but far wider than the second quarter's loss. Shares were up 7/16 to 26 15/16.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose 1 5/8 to 64 11/16, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) jumped 1 7/8 to 184 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) grew 2 5/8 to 146 7/8.

Teligent Inc. (Nasdaq: TGNT), up 13 15/16 to 61 15/16, or 29 percent, confirmed Friday that it has raised $500 million in new capital to expand its buildout of local broadband networks across the country and around the world.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) fell 3/8 to 91 3/8 ahead of news expected from the antitrust trial.

Among other tech bellwethers, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) rose 1/2 to 92 1/16, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) lost 13/16 to 41 3/4, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) rose 1 7/16 to 20 1/2.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) rose 2 3/16 to 72 13/16 and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) rose 1 3/16 to 68 15/16. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) hopped 1 1/16 to 82 5/8.