Updated from 4:00 p.m. EDT

The major averages closed near their session highs, following encouraging earnings news from the financial and media sectors and positive comments from analysts on


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Dow Jones Industrial Average ended with a gain of 173.06 points, or 1.7%, to 10,381.73. The

Nasdaq rose 24.50 points, or 1.4%, to 1767.07, and the

S&P 500 was up 12.67 points, or 1.1%, to 1130.47.

Tech stocks came under pressure around midday as word began circulating that

Siebel Systems

( SEBL) said the first quarter was historically bad for software and hardware makers. The company's CEO, speaking in Spain, also said "the contraction is not over," according to reports. But technology shares bounced back after a brief stint in negative territory. Siebel, however, ended down 7.7% to $25.44.

Among the companies reporting earnings,

SunTrust Banks

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, posted a first-quarter profit of $344.7 million, or $1.20 a share, ahead of the consensus estimate, and up from $1.14 a share in the year-ago quarter. The Atlanta-based bank said it benefited from an increase in lending. SunTrust gained 0.3% to $67.28.

Media company

E.W. Scripps

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, which also reported earnings, hit a 52-week high after issuing positive guidance for the rest of the year. The company did say first-quarter earnings took a hit from recent investment losses, leading to a profit of 50 cents a share, compared with 83 cents a share last year. Excluding investment losses, Scripps earned 56 cents, topping estimates by 3 cents. The stock gained 1.6% to $87.26.

Positive comments from Merrill Lynch on networking giant Cisco were helping parts of the tech sector. Cisco's shares were up 4.9% to $15.55. Other technology bellwethers, including


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, were also trading higher.

Telecommunications gearmaker


( NT) extended its revolving credit facility until April 2003, but said it would pay higher interest for smaller line of credit. The move comes one day after the company warned of a first-quarter earnings shortfall. Nortel dropped 3.9% at $3.50.

After the close Tuesday,

Research in Motion

( RIMM) lowered its revenue and earnings guidance for the fiscal first quarter and fiscal 2003. Subsequently, several analysts lowered their investment ratings and estimates on the company. Shares of the handheld wireless device maker lost 13.2% to $20.19.

In the retail space,

American Eagle Outfitters

( AEOS) warned Tuesday that first-quarter earnings will fall short of analysts' expectations, citing weaker-than-expected sales. The stock fell 1.8% to $24.50. Clothing designer


( NAUT) also lowered guidance, sending the stock down 5.9% to $14.99.

Not all the retailers making news were dropping their estimates, as department store chain


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said first-quarter earnings, excluding certain items, will be 93 cents a share, up from 45 cents a share a year ago. The company's shares were up 5.8% to $54.18.

The biotech sector was higher a day after


( DNA) reported a vast increase in first-quarter earnings thanks to increasing demand for its cancer drugs and a reduction of charges. But analysts raised questions about the company's growth potential, citing an increasingly anemic product pipeline. The company's stock added 5% to $43.12. Overall, the group was stronger, with the Amex Biotech Index climbing 5.1%.

The initial public offering pipeline has been showing signs of life in recent months, and this week, the widely anticipated debut of

JetBlue Airways

is scheduled. The low-cost airline raised the expected price range of its 5.5 million share offering to $25 to $26 from $22 to $24. The company is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq this week under the symbol JBLU.

Meanwhile, violence in the Middle East continued. In the latest incident, a suicide bomber wearing a belt of explosives killed at least eight people and wounded 14 in a blast aboard an Israeli commuter bus near Haifa on Wednesday morning, according to televised reports. Separately, Israeli officials said hundreds of Palestinians, including armed militants, were surrendering at a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin.

U.S. Treasury issues were lower, with the 10-year note down 9/32 at 97 8/32, yielding 5.24%. The long bond was the weakest issue, while shorter-term notes were seeing more modest losses.

Overseas markets were mostly higher, as London's FTSE 100 gained 1% to 5229 and Germany's Xetra DAX was higher by 1.8% to 5265. Japan's Nikkei 225 rallied up 0.9% to 11,219. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.8% to 10,643.