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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs suffer from IBM blow

Big Blue ruined the day for techs at midday Thursday -- techs slumped across the board after IBM's warning that Y2K issues would hurt future quarters. The Nasdaq sank 31.48 to 2,756.65, and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 163.69 to 10,228.67.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index slumped 3 to 335.30.

Just after mainframe software companies were finishing up good quarters, Big Blue hit them with the news MIPs shipments fell 18 percent in the quarter. While IBM dragged most techs down, with just a few managing to keep out of the red Thursday.

IBM fell 15 1/16 to 91 15/16, or 14 percent Thursday, dragging down other mainframe software companies with its Y2K warning; Computer Associates International Inc (NYSE: CA) dropped 4 3/4 to 53 1/2, or 8 percent, Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq: CPWR) fell 3 7/6 to 27 1/16, or 11 percent and BMC Software (Nasdaq: BMCS) dropped 8 1/16 to 52 1/8, or 13. All suffered after IBM's warning.

Shares of Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) surged 16 percent as investors and analysts cheered its distribution pact with America Online (NYSE: AOL), up 1 1/4 to 119 1/4.

Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) fell 13/16 to 74 5/16, Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) dropped 5 1/8 to 91 3/16, while Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) shed 1 1/16 to 38 15/16, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) lost 1 1/8 to 19 1/16.

The initial public offering of Aether Systems (Nasdaq: AETH) sparkled amid the carnage; shares gained 30 3/8 to 46 3/8, or 190 percent in debut.

Critical Path (Nasdaq: CPTH), down 1 to 49, reported a smaller than expected third quarter operating loss, and said it would acquire profitable competitor ISOCOR (Nasdaq: ICOR), up 7 7/8 to 18, in a stock swap valued at $287 million.

Network software maker NetManage Inc. (Nasdaq: NETM), up 5/32 to 2 1/8 said it plans to buy its competitor Wall Data Inc. (Nasdaq: WALL) for $94 million in cash, or $9 a share, as Wall Data shares climbed 2 3/4 to 8 1/2 , or nearly 50 percent.

Stamps.com Inc. (Nasdaq: STMP), up 3 1/4 to 38 7/8, will have exclusive access to America Online Inc.'s (NYSE: AOL) more than 20 million customers for three years under a pact revealed by the two companies.

Adaptec, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) slipped 3/16 to 38 after it posted stronger-than-expected second quarter profits, beating First Call's expectation on strong demand for its RAID computer products.

GTE Corp. (NYSE: GTE) fell 1 3/8 to 72 after it posted third quarter results that beat expectations.

Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT), up 1 to 58 ?, said it has signed a deal with America Online Inc. to supply the world's No. 1 Internet services provider with Internet access connections.

A roundup techs reporting earnings included Wit Capital (Nasdaq: WITC), even at 17, Sportsline USA (Nasdaq: SPLN), down 1/8 to 26 1/8, BackWeb (Nasdaq: BWEB), up 1 to 20 1/2, and Business Objects (Nasdaq: BOBJ), up 1 15/16 to 66 1/16.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) slipped 7/8 to 91 3/8 from its post-earnings high, and most other tech bellwethers were suffering; Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell 1 11/16 to 68 1/4 and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) lost 7/8 to 69 1/16. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) sank 1 7/16 to 79 1/16 and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) fell 61/61 to 179 3/16.