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MARKET CLOSE: Tech leaders lift Nasdaq

Blue-chip technology stocks took off ahead of some key earnings reports Tuesday as the Nasdaq composite closed up 66 points to 4,130.69, just missing a record close. The Dow closed off 162 points to 11,560.72.

Despite the surge in "old" technology stocks, high bond yields kept the rest of the market in check.

"This market continues to spin like a top. It's hard to predict its direction," said Alan Ackerman, a market strategist at Fahnestock & Co. "Bargain-hunters are looking for possible positions. It's a highly selective market, with a lot of rotation. It's a day for traders to weave in and out."

Microsoft Corp (Nasdaq: MSFT) gained 3 1/16 to 115 5/16 ahead of its earnings report. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) soared up 4 7/16 to 11 1/4 after an upgrade from SoundView Technology Group and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) closed up 3/8 to 80 3/4.

Intel Corp. (INTC) shaved off 15/16 to 102 1/8 while Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and International Business Machines Inc. (IBM) closed off 1 1/2 and 3 7/8 a share, respectively.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) shed 1 15/16 to 42 1/16; Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) rose 5/16 to 30 13/16; Gateway Inc. (GTW) fell 15/16 to 58 11/16 and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) added 3 1/2 to 103 15/16.

Be Inc. (Nasdaq: BEOS) closed off 3 9/16 to 15 13/16 after it said it will offer the newest version of its operating system for free later this quarter.

E-Tek Dynamics Inc. (Nasdaq: ETEK) shot up 42 1/2 to 178 3/8 after rival JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) said it plans to buy the company in an all-stock deal worth roughly $15 billion, or $211.40 a share, a 56 percent premium on its Friday closing price.

Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM) tumbled 18 1/2 to 211 1/2 after it said it will acquire privately held Network24 Communications in a stock swap valued at about $200 million.

Unisys' fourth quarter looks like a repeat performance of its third quarter as sales came in almost flat. This time, however, the outlook is a bit better. Still, its shares fell 1 5/16 to 29 7/16.

Kulicke & Soffa hustled up 8 7/8 to 60 13/16 after it handily beat Wall Street estimates with first quarter earnings of 52 cents a share. Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) finished off 1/2 to 135 1/8.

VocalTec Communications (Nasdaq: VOCL) jumped 3 5/8 to 27 7/16 after it said it will restructure its operations and management to focus on the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) industry.

PSINet Inc. (Nasdaq: PSIX) gained 7 25/64 to 92 1/2 after it said it would split its stock 2-for-1. PSINet has already preannounced strong sales.

Cypress Semiconductor (NYSE: CY) closed off 1 5/16 to 35 3/4 despite a confirmation that it will deliver a fourth quarter upside surprise. Cypress forecasted earnings of 31 cents to 32 cents a share before charges.

Among the most widely held Internet stocks, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) fell 11 13/16 to 341 3/16; America Online Inc. (AOL) lost 2 9/16 to 60 11/16; Lycos Inc. (LCOS) dropped 1 1/16 to 72 7/16 and eBay Inc. (EBAY) ended up 5 11/16 to 139 1/2.