(Updated from 7:08 p.m. EST)

Oh, what a tangled tech web

Software makers were taking over after-hours trading, with

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

and

Adobe Systems

(ADBE) - Get Report

posting earnings results after the closing bell. Their news got their cronies in on the action, too.

Image placeholder title

First off, Oracle

met lowered earnings and revenue expectations, pushing the stock into the top spot on

Island

ECN's and

Instinet's

most-actively-traded lists. The stock's been all over the map tonight, starting on the upside, falling a bit after investors sifted through the news, and now lately up again. It was up 21 cents to $14.90 on Island and up 13 cents to $14.81 on Instinet.

And while the company didn't offer guidance in its initial announcement, its financial chief, Jeff Henley, told

TheStreet.com

in a telephone interview that it was trimming fiscal fourth-quarter estimates. Henley said he was expecting the quarter's earnings to be flat with year-ago levels, when the nation's No. 2 software firm earned 15 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

forecast fourth-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share. Check out

TSC's

separate

story for more.

Worry about what Oracle was going to say put pressure on the

Nasdaq

in the regular session; the tech-laden index rallied for much of the day, but at midafternoon its momentum flagged. The Comp ended the day down 31.3. Oracle, meanwhile, ended the day down $1.38, or 8.6%, to $14.69. Earlier the stock hit a 52-week low of $14.50.

Adobe was faring even better after its somewhat mixed news. The company

reported first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street's estimates but lowered its second-quarter revenue guidance, citing the "challenging and uncertain economic environment." Investors shook off the latter part of the news, lifting the stock $2.06 to $27.06 on Island and $2.33 to $27.32 on Instinet.

Meanwhile, rivals

Siebel Systems

(SEBL)

,

i2 Technologies

(ITWO)

and

Citrix

(CTXS) - Get Report

were rallying on the news. Siebel and i2 could use the gains, since they took some hard hits in the regular session. In fact, i2 hit a 52-week low, though it managed to end the day off that low.

PC maker

Compaq Computer

(CPQ)

was tonight's surprise guest in the after-hours trading game.

The company announced that it was

lowering its earnings expectations for the first quarter, citing continued weakness in the U.S. economy and the resulting pricing pressure. And (you've heard this before) the company said it plans to cut 5,000 jobs, or about 7% of its workforce.

Compaq gained 20 cents to $18.70 on Instinet.

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

was adding to the gains it made in the regular session after the company, which makes equipment that increases the capacity of fiber-optic telecom networks, told analysts it hasn't been hurt by the slowing economy. The company gained $1.38, or 2.6%, to $54.75 in the regular session and in extended trading was up $1.06 to $55.81 on Island and $1 higher to $55.75 on Instinet.

Big-cap tech companies

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

,

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

were all making up for their regular session losses and chalking up some modest gains, while networking giant

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

was adding to the 6 cents it tacked on earlier in the day.

Discount retailers have been standouts in the retail sector of late. So investors were unprepared for an announcement by

Dollar Tree Stores

(DLTR) - Get Report

Wednesday that it expects first-quarter earnings to fall 5 cents below Wall Street's estimates due to snow-induced store closings and lower store traffic.

Investors were so shaken that they sent the stock down 20.9% in last night's after-hours trading. And the suffering kept on coming for the retailer in today's regular trading, when the stock dropped to a new 52-week low of $17.88 before ending the day off 24.8%, to $18.19. The stock was off 6 cents to $18.13 on Instinet.

Futures indicate that there is still some lingering optimism in stocks after today's Dow rally, which bodes well for tomorrow's open. But sentiment could sour before the bell if investors don't like what they see in the February

Producer Price Index, scheduled to be released at 8:30 a.m. EST tomorrow. The

S&P 500 futures on

Globex

lately were up 6 to 1191, about 6 points above fair value as calculated by

Prudential Securities

. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

futures were up 25 to 1740, or 21 points above fair value as calculated by

TSC

.

This information is provided by Instinet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reuters (RTRSY) . For further information, please contact Instinet at www.instinet.com.

Island ECN offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Confused?

TheStreet.com

explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.