Midday Report: Nasdaq Higher Despite Tech Unrest

Many battered technology stocks found buyers Monday morning, sending the Nasdaq Composite Index up 22.21 to 1,950.89 by midday.

The advance, which would be the third consecutive daily gain for the index if it holds, came even as more companies announced plans to lay off workers and warnings of weak quarterly results.

Optimism spread to the broader market as well, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index up 16.55 at 1,156.38, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 185.62 at 9,690.40.

Cisco Slips

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), however, was down 62 U.S. cents at $18.06 after the company’s chief executive officer reportedly told the Financial Times that he sees the U.S. economic downturn continuing for at least three more quarters.

The newspaper said that CEO John Chambers did not warn specifically about his own company’s outlook, but did note that things remained tough in February and March, and that the economic malaise had spread to Europe and Asia.

Nevertheless, Cisco, considered a bellwether for technology stocks, did not bring the whole sector down with it. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was unchanged at midday, while JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) and Worldcom (Nasdaq: WCOM) were higher.

More Warnings, Job Cuts

PMC-Sierra (Nasdaq: PCMS) was down $2.14 at $31.80 at midday after the communications chipmaker warned of a weak quarter and announced plans to cut jobs.

Likewise, Conexant (Nasdaq: CNXT) had fallen 56 cents to $10.56 after saying it expects a weak quarter and that it will lay off 20 percent of its workforce. The company, which also makes communications chips, also said that it would cut its top managers’ pay by 10 percent.

Amazon, Webvan Gain

The E-Commerce Times Index was up 2.77 percent at midday, led by gains in Webvan (Nasdaq: WBVN), Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN).

Webvan was up 3 cents at 19 cents after the online grocer said it would offer its customers photo-finishing services through an alliance with PhotoWorks. Webvan chairman George Shaheen said the new service would help the company deliver on its mission to provide a broad range of products and services.

Amazon picked up 63 cents to $10.82 following reports that chief executive officer Jeff Bezos repeated the e-tailer’s plan to post a profit this year.

Reports said that Bezos, in an interview on CNBC, said the goal is “not a guarantee,” but an aim the company is working hard to reach.

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