Stocks were higher, with the

Nasdaq Composite Index

the biggest gainer among the market's major averages, while the 30-year Treasury bond fell sharply after a much-stronger-than-expected economic report.

The Nasdaq Comp was up 20 to 2501.

The 30-year bond was down 31/32 to 94 8/32, yielding 5.65%, in the wake of the release of the

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index

for March, which soared to 57.0 from 52.9 in February. A Reuters consensus forecast of economists predicted the index would come in at 52.6.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 13 to 9926.

Dow component

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

was the biggest loser in the average, down 3 1/4, or 9%, to 34 1/2 in the wake of a courtroom loss yesterday and a

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

downgrade today.

The

S&P 500

was up 3 to 1304, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 400.

Louis Todd, head of equities trading at

J.C. Bradford

, said quarter-end window dressing by money managers was part of the reason for the firmness in the market today. He said that with the market going into the next quarter, new money will be flowing into the market and that should help the market over the upcoming week or two. After that, market participants will be focusing on earnings season, he added.

In Netland, cyberspace issues were higher.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 9 to 652.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 2 to 112.

"Internet stocks are still hot," said Todd. As for Internet IPOs, "they're in a class by themselves," he said.

Speaking of Internet IPOs, trading in

ZDNet

(ZDZ:NYSE), the tracking stock for

Ziff-Davis'

(ZD)

Internet division, will begin today. Its 10 million IPO was priced at $19.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,353 to 1,142 on 260 million shares. On the Nasdaq, winners were leading losers 1,556 to 1,505 on 266 million shares.

On the NYSE, 39 issues had set new 52-week lows while 23 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 54 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 40.

On the Big Board,

Pepsi Bottling Group

(PBG)

was most active, with 49 million shares changing hands. It was down 5/8 to 22 3/8. The company's 100 million-share IPO was priced yesterday at $23 a share, the low end of the offering's range of $23 to $26.

On the Nasdaq,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was most active, with 12 million shares changing hands. It was up 1 1/2 to 41 3/8.

9:54 a.m.: Nasdaq Leads March Higher

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

surged early on, leading the major market gauges on the upside.

The Nasdaq Comp was up 38 to 2518. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 83 to 9996. The

S&P 500

was up 12 to 1313. The

Russell 2000

was up 2 to 401.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 16 to 660.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 3 to 113.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 7/32 to 95 2/32, yielding 5.60%.

Most Up at Open -- NYSE

Nokia (NOKA) , up 5 1/8 to 161 1/2

.

Most Up at Open -- Nasdaq

VeriSign (VRSN) - Get Report, up 20 1/8 to 154 3/4

: The company set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Most Down at Open -- NYSE

Weatherford (WFT) - Get Report, down 1 5/16 to 27 5/8

.

Most Down at Open -- Nasdaq

Etec Systems (ETEC) , down 15 3/4 to 27 3/8

: The company said it will post a third-quarter loss of 35 cents to 45 cents a share, including charges it will record after cutting 90 jobs, or 8% of its semiconductor products group workforce. Excluding the charges, Etec expects earnings of 10 cents. The 12-analyst view called for earnings of 26 cents vs. the year-ago profit of 47 cents.