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Tech Industry

MARKET CLOSE: Dow, Nasdaq drift lower

Technology stocks have been so brutalized in the past several months that Thursday's slight decline almost qualifies as a good day. The Nasdaq composite shed 44 points to finish at 2,752.64 while the Dow lopped off 46 points to end at 10,618.49.

Perhaps the only reason the market's managing to stabilize a bit is the slight hope the Fed will cut interest rates in the near future.

"I think the market can look forward and expect that the Fed will be lowering interest rates in the first quarter, and earnings will come back on track," said Steven Goldman, a market strategist at Weeden & Co. "But until then, it's not going to be pretty."

Microsoft (MSFT) fell $3.50 to $53.19 after Goldman Sachs reduced its sales and earnings estimates for the software giant while maintaining a rating of "market outperform" on the stock.

Oracle (ORCL) lost $1.88 to $28.31 and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) closed off $1.44 to $42.81.

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) shaved off $2.56 to a 52-week low of $34.94 after W.R. Hambrecht's Derek Brown cut the stock to a "neutral" rating as online advertising sales continue to dry up.

Other Internet stocks met similar fates as America Online (AOL) and Amazon.com (AMZN) lost $1.06 and $2.25 a share, respectively. eBay (EBAY) shed $1.31 to $35 and CMGI (CMGI) slid 75 cents to $10.81.

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) fell 6 cents to $17.75 after warning that it won't meet analysts' reduced sales and earnings targets for the fourth quarter or fiscal 2001.

National Semiconductor (NSM) did manage to beat reduced estimates in its second quarter but warned that it won't hit estimates in the third quarter or in fiscal 2001. Its shares ended down $1.13 to $18.88.

Intel (INTC) added 56 cents to $32.31. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) inched up 6 cents to $14.50 and IBM (IBM) lost $1.38 to $95.38.

Fiber optic gear maker Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN) gained 25 cents to $95.63 after it topped earnings estimates in its fourth quarter with earnings of $41.3 million, or 14 cents a share, excluding one-time items, on sales of $287.6 million. The company also upped its targets for 2001.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell (DELL) lost 56 cents to $17.44; Apple Computer (AAPL), fresh off its profit warning, closed unchanged at $14.31; Gateway (GTW) rose 33 cents to $17.15 and Compaq (CPQ) ended off 75 cents to $19.35. .