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MIDDAY MARKETS: Nasdaq hits new heights

A slew of deals and the blazing IPO of Palm helped the Nasdaq score another record at midday Thursday. The Nasdaq rose 19.39 to 4803.47, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 38.78 to 10,176.71.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 2 to 643.21.

The Nasdaq reached a new intraday record of 4,800 before midday, as economic news had a negligible effect on the market, and a highly anticipated IPO made it out the gates.

3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) had been up 10 1/16 to 114 3/16, before the debut of its spin-off, but shares tumbled 7 percent as Palm Inc. (Nasdaq: PALM) jumped to $145 in its opening trade. Palm had priced shares of its initial public offering at $38 a share, above its increased price range of $30 to $32 a share.

Switchboard (Nasdaq: SWBD) priced shares at $15, above it revised range of $12 to $14 for trading Thursday. Banyan and CBS own stakes in the company. Shares opened at 32.

Economic data for the day came in neutral on the inflation angle; new home sales fell to an annual rate of 882,000, indicating a decline since December. The Conference Board said its index of leading indicators gained 0.3 percent to 109 in January, just above the 0.2 percent forecast by economists.

Dealmaking was also driving some lesser-known stocks onto the most active charts at midday; Xybernaut (Nasdaq: XYBR)soared 14 percent, or 3 3/8 to 27 1/8 after it said it has been issued a U.S. patent for a "transferable core," a technology that could change mobile computing.

Gensym (Nasdaq: GNSM) blasted up 220 percent, or 4 3/4 to 20 3/4, after it announced a deal to provide Nokia (NYSE: NOK), up 8 1/4 to 209 3/4, with its software for operations management.

Radiant Systems (Nasdaq: RADS) rose 38 11/16 to 93 15/16 after it announced it will work with Microsoft to create Web marketplaces for retailers.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 3 1/8 to 93 15/16. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) rose 9/16 to 116 7/16.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 1 7/8 to 64, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) lost 3 1/8 to 155 3/8 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) lost 5/8 to 56 3/8.