Midday Report: Nasdaq Edges Higher but Techs Struggle

The Nasdaq Composite Index maintained a slim gain at midday Tuesday, after the Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index fell in April, raising hopes that U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers will deliver another interest-rate cut to spur the economy.

Technology stocks, meanwhile, were broadly lower after disappointing quarterly results and outlooks from JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU), Compaq (NYSE: CPQ) and others.

The Conference Board said that its monthly confidence index fell 8 points in April after rebounding in March. The decline reflected “deteriorating business conditions and a less favorable job market,” according to Lynn Franco, director of the group’s consumer research center.

“It’s clear that consumers have begun to worry about employment trends, and these concerns are gnawing away at consumer confidence,” Franco said.

Indices Post Gains

At midday, the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.10 at 2,076.42. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was ahead 2.02 at 1,226.38, and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 43.75 at 10,575.98.

JDS Uniphase was the most active Nasdaq issue, falling $1.70 to $22.48 after announcing plans to cut 5,000 more jobs as part of a “global realignment program.” Those moves will result in charges of $375 million to $425 million in coming quarters, JDS said.

The fiber-optic component maker also reported results for the just-ended quarter that were in line with its previously lowered expectations.

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), a big JDS customer, was next on the most-active list, down 52 cents at $16.81. Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), meanwhile, was up 42 cents at $17.57, after announcing plans to buy back as much as $3 billion of its stock.

Mixed Quarterly Results

Overall, technology company quarterly results were a mixed bag. EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK) was up 85 cents at $11.75 after reporting a narrower loss for the first quarter just ended.

Telecom heavyweights AT&T (NYSE: T) and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) were also higher despite weak quarterly results.

However, Compaq dropped US$2.79 to $17.86 by midday Tuesday, after the computer maker reported a drop infirst-quarter net income, warned of more weakness in the second quarter andannounced plans for further cost cuts. Compaq officials reportedly told investorson a conference call that they plan to eliminate 2,000 more jobs thanpreviously expected, for a total of 7,000 cuts.

Check Point Software (Nasdaq: CHKP) was down $8.66 at $67.73, even after reporting quarterly results that topped expectations.

Amazon, eBay Rise

The E-Commerce Times Index was up 1.92 percent at midday. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), which is due to report quarterly results after the close of trading, was up 28 cents at $16.48.

eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) was up 59 cents at $47.55 after the online auctioneer said it would offer more live auctions, adding product categories and allowing trading in 17 different currencies.

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