Midday Report: Tech Recovery Helps Nasdaq Recoup Early Loss

Rebounds in some big-name technology stocks that were battered inrecent sessions sent the Nasdaq Composite Index upward in middaytrading Wednesday.

The index had risen 33.83 to 2,352.18 by early afternoon. The advance was led byCisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), which was at US$26.31, up 25 cents, by midday;Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), up 50 cents at $23.62, and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC),ahead 37 cents at $31.81.

Stocks fell earlier in the session amid a continued stream of analystdowngrades and bad news from technology companies.

Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW), was down $2.19 at $20.06 in midday trading after reports that Merrill Lynch & Co. had downgraded the stock becauseof concerns that the slowing economy could hurt demand for the company’sproducts.

Merrill Lynch reportedly lowered its rating on Sun to neutral from accumulate,saying inventories are at the highest level in three years. Sun officialsare holding a quarterly conference call after the close of trading onThursday, and some investors are said to be expecting a lowered outlook.

CPI Jumps

The U.S. Department of Labor’s report that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.6 percentin January contributed to the market malaise, as it led many investors tobelieve the Federal Reserve will not deliver a big interest-rate cut when itnext meets to discuss policy in March.

Excluding food and energy costs,which can be volatile from month to month, the index rose 0.3 percent.

E-Commerce Mixed

The E-Commerce TimesIndex was down 0.49 percent, with losses in Priceline.com (Nasdaq:PCLN), Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN) and Travelocity (Nasdaq: TVLY).

However, those losses were offset by gains in eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Egghead Software (Nasdaq: EGGS).

VA Linux, Sprint Fall

VA Linux Systems was down $1.78 at $5.47 after the maker of open sourcesoftware reported a loss for the fiscal second quarter and announced aplanned restructuring, including job cuts and a charge to third-quarterresults.

Sprint (NYSE: FON) fell $1.69 to $20.91 after Deutsche Telekom and FranceTelekom said they would sell their shares in the company. Sprint will notreceive any of the proceeds from the public offering of 152.03 millioncommon shares.

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