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Techs barely break into the black

After rallying for most of the week after the Fed's interest-rate cut, technology investors give pause to consider forecasts from Palm and Dell Computer.

A mild afternoon rally helped the technology sector finish in slightly positive territory Friday.

The Nasdaq composite index closed at 2,198.87, up 5.19 points. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 50.1 points to 11,298.68.

After rallying for most of the week after the Federal Reserve's interest-rate cut Tuesday, technology investors gave pause to consider forecasts from Palm and Dell Computer.

Palm got a big thumbs down from analysts Friday, sending it and competitor Handspring plunging. While analysts didn't see any good news in sight for the leading handheld maker, they were more optimistic about prospects for Handspring and Research In Motion. Shares of Palm were down $2.03 to $5.02, taking them to a new 52-week low, and Handspring fell $1.69 to $8.69. RIM moved up $1.77 to $36.12.

Dell fell $1.09 to $24.79 after the company met first-quarter expectations Thursday, but told analysts to lower second-quarter targets slightly.

Certain sectors of the communications chip market will recover from inventory issues faster than others, a Lehman Brothers analysts said Friday, sending shares of Broadcom up $1.80 to $42.84.

Electronic trading platform Instinet Group went public with an offering that valued the company at $3.5 billion. Instinet closed at $17.65, up $3.15 from its initial offering price of $14.50.

Portal Software slid 70 cents to $5.27 after the maker of customer management and billing software for communications companies reported a first-quarter loss and job cuts.

Lucent Technologies rose 12 cents to $9.93. The New York Times reported that the communications equipment giant is negotiating a merger with Alcatel, which slid $1.89 to $30.15.

Among other heavily traded technology stocks, Cisco Systems rose 34 cents to $20.20. Microsoft fell 8 cents to $68.09. Sun Microsystems rose $1.15 to $19.97, and Intel gained 16 cents to $28.76.

Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.