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MIDDAY MARKETS: Telco, chipmakers stir quiet techs

Telecom news and a semiconductor rally led otherwise lackluster techs, as the Columbus Day holiday hushed trading at midday Monday. The Nasdaq rose 20.49 to 2,907.06, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 35.78 to 10,685.54.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 4 to 353.99.

All was quiet on the economic front at high noon Monday, as the bond market closed for the Columbus Day holiday. Fed chief Alan Greenspan was mum on monetary policy and the U.S, economy at a speech to the American Bankers Association convention in Phoenix. It was his first public speech for the Federal Reserve chairman since the Federal Open Market Committee decided to leave interest rates unchanged at its last meeting. Greenspan is expected to address monetary policy and economic issues Friday in a speech to the National Italian American Foundation.

Global Crossing Ltd was down 11/16 to 35 13/16 after it announced it was buying the telecom unit of Britain's Racal Electronics for $1.65 billion.

Phone.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: PHCM) rose 9 percent, or 16 1/16 to 196 after it said it will buy APiON Ltd, a Belfast, Northern Ireland-based telecommunications software company.

Sprint (NYSWE: FON) sank 1 to 66 7/8 and Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) sank 5/16 to 66. AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) rose 3/16 to 47 13/16.

PeopleSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: PSFT), down 3/4 to 16 1/2, is snapping up Vantive Corporation (Nasdaq: VNTV), in a stock for stock transaction worth about $433 million. Vantive rose 3 5/16 to 12 1/4 despite simultaneous news it will miss estimates in the third quarter by about 16 cents a share.

Shares of Ask Jeeves Inc. (Nasdaq: ASKJ) jumped12 to 62 7/16 , or 24 percent after the online butler struck a new deal with Microsoft to answer support questions for Windows 98. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) slipped 9/16 to 94 3/8.

Knight/Trimark Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: NITE), a company which processes online trades, fell 4 23/64 after it warned it expects to miss expectations for its third quarter earnings due to lower sequential trading volume. The company said earnings will be about 17 to 19 cents a share, well below First Call's prediction of 30 cents a share.

Shares of Hi/fn Inc. (Nasdaq: HIFN) were recovering on strong volume, up 14 5/8 to 52 3/8, or 39 percent, after plunging another 49 percent on Friday after it forecast lower-than-expected fiscal first-quarter revenues. Friday, Hi/fn took and other stocks in the once-highflying networking chip sector tumbled along with it. PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq:PMCS), up 2 3/8 to 91 7/8, Vitesse Semicondcutor (Nasdaq: VTSS) , up 4 1/4 to 86 5/8, were also recovering Monday. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), which should be active ahead of its Tuesday earnings report, gained 1 1/4 to 77 7/16.

Among net notables, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) sank 1 3/16 to 88 1/16. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) lost 7 7/16 to 184 11/16 and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) shed 5/8 to 121 3/16.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) rose 4/8 to 44 3/16 and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) skipped up 1/2 to 44 3/16.