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RealTime IT News

Jobs Report Stimulates Market

Internet stocks continued flying higher in mid-day trading after a number of analyst upgrades. Also adding momentum, a positive employment report for the month of March.

By 12:20 Eastern, internet.com's Internet Stock Index was up 38.94, or 4.37 percent, to 929.44, the Nasdaq composite was up 135.44 to 4,403.00 , and the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 48.09 to 11,162.36.

The U.S. Labor Department reported the economy added 416,000 new jobs in March, more than the 375,000 analysts had expected. However, average hourly wages rose only $0.05 to $13.60 an hour, a gain of 0.4 percent. The jobless rate remained unchanged from February at 4.1 percent.

Several analysts followed the lead of Merrill Lynch analyst Sofia Ghachem, who initiated coverage of Safeguard Scientifics (SFE) yesterday with a "near-term buy"/ "long-term buy" rating and $100 price target. Today, Prudential Securities upgraded the stock from "accumulate" to "strong buy" with a $94 price target. Lehman Brothers initiated with a "buy" rating and $100 price target. Deutsche Bank initiated coverage with a "strong buy" and $70 price target. Shares of SFE were up 8-3/4 to 59-1/4.

Opus 360 (OPUS) priced 7.7 million shares at $10 per share through lead underwriter Robertson Stephens. Shares were trading up 3 to 13 by mid-day. Opus360 operates the FreeAgent.com online freelance marketplace.

Big winners were Check Point Software (CHKP) +11-5/8 to 188-3/8 and Infospace (INSP) up 8-7/8 to 71-3/8 (shares have split 2-for1).

Internet Capital Group (ICGE) was upgraded from a "buy" to "strong buy" at Robertson Stephens. Shares were trading up 1 to 74-7/8.

PurchasePro.com (PPRO) was up 1-3/8 to 59 after announcing the formation of a co-branded business-to-business (B2B) marketplace with Sprint.

Shares of Healtheon/Web MD (HLTH) were up 7-1/16 to 28-3/4 after two members of its board, Jim Clark and John Doerr, announced they would take a $220 million stake in the company.


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