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What a difference a couple hours make!

Beginning at about midday, the major indices came off their lows and the

Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was up and down all day, moved higher for good. The technology-laden

Nasdaq Composite Index also moved higher.

"Old-tech" stocks bounced higher today. Case in point:


(MSFT) - Get Free Report

added more than 18 points to the Dow's gain.


(INTC) - Get Free Report



(IBM) - Get Free Report

contributed a total of some 50 points to the index.

Also, non-Dow components


(DELL) - Get Free Report




also jumped.

No rejoicing in tech yet, though.

Nortel Networks


continued to be the most actively traded stock on the

New York Stock Exchange. Tuesday night it reported a revenue shortfall and warned of

slowing optical sales for the year. On Wednesday, optical networking stocks, seen as the last holdouts in the battered technology sector, took a beating. Today, though, the Canadian company's stock came back by 1.1% to $45.38.

Nortel's chum

JDS Uniphase


moved up 4.8% ahead of its post-close earnings announcement.

The official forecast for JDS earnings is 16 cents per share, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial

, but the whisper number -- which reflects what the market really expects -- is 18 cents per share.

In other earnings news,

Nextel Communications


posted a smaller-than-expected loss in the third quarter, but added fewer mobile telephone than originally expected during the period. That news sent the wireless telephone company's stock down 18.2% in recent action.

As a result of Nextel's disappointing subscriber numbers, analysts at

First Union

lowered their rating on the company to buy from strong buy. Shares of

Sprint PCS


ended down 10.6% after it warned that subscriber growth would be slower than expected because of increased competition and its decision to cancel some unprofitable customers.

Meanwhile, in non-tech news, cereal giant


(K) - Get Free Report

has agreed to acquire cookie and cracker manufacturer



for $42 a share, or about $3.6 billion. Shares of Kellogg were up $1.56 to $24.31, while Keebler was up $1.06 to $40.44.

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Sector Watch

Chip stocks rebounded off yesterday's losses. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 6.1%. Components Intel,

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Free Report



(XLNX) - Get Free Report

all lead the index higher.

Oil prices were rising following new developments in the Middle East. Iraq is demanding oil for food payments in euros, a proposal that is now before the U.N. Security Council. Traders are worried that Iraq could disrupt oil shipments if it doesn't get its way.


American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was lately up 0.7%, the

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

was up 1.6% and the

Chicago Board Options Exchange Oil Index

was 1.3% higher.

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Bonds are mixed this afternoon, following a down day yesterday.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was lately flat at 100 14/32, yielding 5.692%.

The 30-year

Treasury bond was at 107 9/32, 2/32 lower, to yield 5.735%.

The economic data that came in earlier today was relatively benign.


Employment Cost Index


definition |

chart |


) for the third quarter rose 0.9%, after a 1% gain in the prior quarter. A 1% increase had been expected.

Initial jobless claims


definition |

chart |


) for the week of Oct. 21 were lower at 305,000, from 310,000 in the previous week.

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