The market hasn't stopped its running today, turning this morning's sprint into a steady gallop. Led by technology stocks, the

Nasdaq Composite Index is doing its best 1999 impression, bulled higher by just about every sector group within technology, while the

New York Stock Exchange shows broad interest. The

S&P 500 was strong, lately up almost 1%.

After erasing all of January's 14% gain earlier this month, the Comp was lately up strongly.

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

should be thanked. The optical networking gear equipment maker

announced earnings that beat Wall Street's estimates for its fiscal first quarter and, more importantly, said that it expects its business to grow faster than the overall market. Investors were cheerier for the news, pushing Ciena up 19.6%, and helping the

American Stock Exchange Networking Index

to a 5.8% gain.

Cyclical and technology stocks were assisting the Dow. The leaders included

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

, which was down sharply yesterday, as well as the technology components.

Optical stocks, up yesterday after

Sycamore Networks'

(SCMR)

better-than-expected second-quarter earnings results, are strong again. Sycamore was lately up 11.9%, while

Corning

(GLW) - Get Report

was gaining 11.4%.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

, which tracks the sector, was lately up 6.2%. Investors rewarded chipmakers yesterday on the heels of an analyst upgrade on the sector. Tuesday evening,

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

reported earnings that topped analyst estimates, but the company cautioned about its growth going forward. Despite that warning,

J.P. Morgan Chase

raised its ratings on it and four other semiconductor equipment stocks yesterday, to "long-term buy" from "market perform."

Internet stocks, notwithstanding a downgrade to sell from

Prudential Securities

on

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

, are higher on the day.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index, or the DOT, was up 3.2%.

TheStreet.com's

Betsy Riley took a look at the

Amazon news.

In recent trading, the biggest drag on the index was New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

. The drug maker confirmed full-year earnings estimates, but it and other pharmaceuticals are lower as investors move away from defensive-oriented plays like drugs, tobacco and food stocks.

Sector Watch

Transportation stocks looked strong. The

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was lately up 1.1%. Shares of

American Airlines

parent

AMR

(AMR)

were up 4.1%, while

United Airlines

parent

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

was 1.9% higher.

Brokerages were also higher today.

E*Trade

(ET) - Get Report

, now trading on the New York Stock Exchange from the Nasdaq, gained 1.8%, while

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

rose 2.9%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasury prices are lower for the fourth successive day as the money market trims its hopes of an interest-rate cut next month from 50 basis points to 25. The fall in prices is steepest at the long end, with the 30-year bond two-thirds of a point down. The commercial and jobs data released this morning are slightly positive but still indicative of a softened economy. Yields are a little higher for the notes and fairly flat for the longer-dated maturities.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was down 14/32 to 98 17/32, raising its yield to 5.190%.

In economic news,

initial jobless claims

(

definition |

chart |

source

), which track the number of people applying for first-time unemployment benefits, fell to 352,000 in the week ended Feb.10, from 363,000. Economists had predicted a drop to 359,000 in the

Reuters

poll, so the lower number is a good sign. However, the reading is subject to frequent revisions. The four-week moving average rose to 345,000, its highest value since early January.

Import and export prices

(

definition |

chart |

source

) were mixed for January, with the former down and the latter up. Prices for imports for all commodities slid for the second consecutive month, by 0.4%. The average price increase for the past 12 months has also declined consistently since September; the level now stands at 2.3%. Excluding oil imports, the average monthly and yearly increases were 0.3% and 1.6% respectively. Meanwhile, total export costs were up 0.2% for January and are holding steady at 1.3% in their 12-month average. Excluding agricultural products, the price increases are 0.2% for January and 1% over the past 12 months.

The

Philadelphia Fed Index

(

definition |

chart |

source

), which measures regional manufacturing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, came out below expectations at -30.5. After the steep fall to -36.8 in January, economists had been predicting a more marked improvement than this, forecasting the number would rise to -24. The number indicates contracting activity in factories when below zero, and though it is moving in the right direction, its slow progress indicates the severely depressed state of manufacturing. Almost every Federal Reserve official has commented upon the manufacturing sector's woes, so the latest information is not likely to surprise bond investors.

Finally, the

Consumer Comfort Index

(

definition |

chart ) rose by 4 points to 20, its highest level since the start of the year. The gauge reflects the state of the economy and how people are responding to general buying opportunities.

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