Midday Report: Nasdaq Falls as Tech Retreat Continues

Technology stocks again dragged major stock averages lower at midday Friday, asreports of troubles at Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) and LucentTechnologies (NYSE: LU) sparked another round of selling.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 59.92 at 2,502.14 by midday, with CiscoSystems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) retreating for the third day in a row. The stock was down US$1.44 at $28.56 by midday. On Wednesday, the maker of computer network systems reported disappointingquarterly results.

Cisco’s drop has spilled over into other technology issues, including Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) andSun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), which were also among the Nasdaq’sbiggest losers Friday.

Dell, Lucent Drop

Two big issues fell on news reports not backed up by company statements.Dell was down $2.20 at $23.86 amid reports that the computer maker may beplanning layoffs.

Lucent, down $1.86 at $15.03, was the most active issue on the New York StockExchange. The company is reportedly the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissionaccounting investigation. Reports also said the company had disclosed the accounting probe late last year.

E-Commerce Mostly Down

The E-Commerce TimesIndex was down 3.86 percent at midday. Online travel company Travelocity(Nasdaq: TVLY), up 19 cents at $26.12, was the only one of the 10 stocks inthe index to register a gain.

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) was down 12 cents at $14.25 after the e-tailgiant said it would consolidate its European customer-service operations,closing its Netherlands center and moving those operations to centers in theUK and Germany. The company said the move was part of its plan to cut costsand work toward profitability.

Amazon competitor Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN) fell for a second day,losing 6 cents to $1.88 by early afternoon. The online bookseller onThursday reported a big fourth-quarter loss and said it would cut 350 jobs,or 16 percent of its workforce.

Some Winners

Among tech winners Friday were Network Appliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), up$3.31 at $38.50 after beating analyst estimates for the quarter endedJanuary 31st, and EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK), which rose $1.09 to $10 afterrestructuring an agreement with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON).

Audible, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBL) was also higher, rising 97 cents to $1.84following news that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is boosting itsinvestment in the company by $10 million.

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