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RealTime IT News

Markets Mixed Ahead of Key Earnings

Investor activity looked mixed in early morning trade ahead of key earnings results from big name tech and Internet firms due out after the bell. The tech-heavy Nasdaq leapt 73.49 to 3,967.38 following lower than expected PPI data that eased rate hike jitters, while the Big Board headed in the opposite direction, sagging 70.66 to 11,111.52. Across the board strength in the Internet sector pulled the ISDEX higher by 3.54%.

Shares of Oracle jumped 3 1/8 to 84 15/16 as investors will be closely watching for upside quarterly earnings from the world's second largest software firm today. The company has beaten Wall Street's estimates in its last three quarters and analysts are forecasting Q1 earnings at $0.13 per share expected out after the bell.

Adobe Systems tacked on 1 1/4 to 127 3/16 ahead of its Q2 results after the bell. The desktop publishing software developer is anticipated to report $0.52 a share. Shares of Red Hat edged up 11/16 to 24 13/16 as investors await earnings from the open source poster child. The company is expected to post a $0.02 per share loss for its second quarter earnings also coming out following the bell.

Shares of Microsoft slipped 3/4 to 67 1/2, after the software giant launched its latest version of the consumer Windows operating system, dubbed 'Windows Me.' The successor to Windows 98 Second Edition will be Redmond's last OS based on the two decade old DOS programming technology.

In addition, the vice president of Microsoft's platform strategy and developer group, Paul Maritz, announced plans to retire after 14 years with the company. Maritz may leave best remembered for his internal e-mail memo that took center stage in the government's antitrust case in which he suggested bundling Internet Explorer with the Windows OS to "cut off Netscape's air supply."

In a sign that consolidation is still rampant in the e-tailing sector, barnesandnoble.com announced plans to acquire rival bookseller Fatbrain.com after the market close. In a combined stock and cash deal worth $64 million, reaction to the announcement was mixed. Shares of barnesandnoble climbed 3/8 to 4 3/4, while Fatbrain sank 17/32 to 3 27/32 as investors chewed on the low 11.5% premium.

Meanwhile, shares of Chinese portal Sohu.com rose 5/8 to 7 5/8, following its late Wednesday announcement to buy rival ChinaRen.com. Sohu.com will issue 4.4 million shares in a stock deal worth $30 million, making it the largest dot-com buyout in China's Internet history. The acquisition is expected to nearly double Sohu.com's user base to 7.8 million. Shares of its competitors climbed in sympathy on the news. Sina.com leapt 9/16 to 21 1/2, Netease inched 5/16 to 6 1/2, while China.com marched 1/4 to 16 1/2.

In the spirit of the Olympics starting tomorrow, Network Appliance has announced that the Australian Olympic Committee's official site, Olympics.com.au, will use its caching systems to speed up Web traffic. Shares of Network Appliance rose 4 1/4 to 116 1/4. Fellow network caching equipment maker CacheFlow soared 6 1/2 higher to 121 5/8 by midday.



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