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Tech stocks recover day's losses

After slumping earlier in the day, technology issues perk up as investors shift their dollars into software and semiconductor stocks.

    Technology stocks perked up Wednesday, after slumping earlier in the day, as investors shifted their dollars into software and semiconductor stocks.

    The Nasdaq composite index was up 9.45 points to close at 2,011.38. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 6.44 points to 9,894.81, recovering from a fall it took after Dow component American Express said it would cut up to 6,500 jobs and warned that earnings would come in at the low end of estimates.

    Most of the CNET tech indexes also recovered by market close.

    The Nasdaq on Tuesday finished the day higher after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the 11th time this year, saying the economy was still weak; the Dow lost ground after an earnings warning by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

    The Commerce Department on Wednesday said that the U.S. current account deficit, which measures trade with foreign countries, shrank in the third quarter to the smallest gap in nearly two years. The deficit fell to $95 billion in the three months ended in September from $107.6 billion in the second quarter.

    Economists said the plunge was tied to falling imports in a weak economy.

    Here were the key stocks in the news Wednesday:

    • Comverse Technology, down 89 cents to $21.05, said it plans to cut 900 jobs, or about 15 percent of its work force. The maker of telephone-messaging software also posted earnings in line with expectations Tuesday.

    Comverse said income, excluding one-time charges, was $20.1 million, or 11 cents per share, which was in line with First Call's consensus estimates. The results compare with $68.4 million, excluding one-time charges, or 38 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

    Analyst comments may also give the stock a boost; Morgan Stanley raised its investment rating on the stock to "outperform" from "neutral."

    • Dell Computer, up 12 cents to $29.18, may also get some attention as the computer maker is involved in a patent infringement lawsuit.

    Six owners of patents for data compression technology used in video transmission have sued Dell, accusing it of allegedly installing the technology in its computers without a license.

    France Telecom, Mitsubishi Electric, Scientific-Atlanta, Sony, U.S. Philips and Victor Co. are the plaintiffs that claim to have rights to several patents "essential to the practice of the worldwide video compression standard known as MPEG-2."

    • RealNetworks shares were up 53 cents to $7.22, after news that Compaq Computer will put its software on new consumer PCs. The software, called RealOne, is used to play and record video and audio from the Internet.

    The move could help RealNetworks as it attempts to grab media customers from rival Microsoft, which makes the competing Windows Media Player.

    • Veritas Software was also up, gaining $1.77 to $44.42, after it announced a deal with the consulting arm of computer hardware maker IBM.

    • Transmeta shares lost 65 cents to $2.05 after the company said revenue would likely be lower than expected due to delays of its latest chips.

    Among other actively traded shares, Intel rose 13 cents to $33.32; Oracle lost 22 cents to $14.89; and Microsoft fell 87 cents to $66.45.

    AOL Time Warner gained 28 cents to $32.28. Yahoo rose 39 cents to $18.81, and Amazon.com fell 44 cents to $11.80.

    Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.