Microsoft, AOL Bury The Hatchet

Microsoft and AOL settled their antitrust dispute after the bell on Thursday.

AOL rose 3% after hours on the wide-ranging settlement, while shares of Microsoft slipped. The antitrust lawsuit was filed by AOL on behalf of Netscape in January 2002.

The seven-year pact allows AOL to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browsing technology for free, and Microsoft will pay $750 million to AOL. The two companies also announced cooperation on issues ranging from digital media to instant messaging.

Also after the close, McData beat estimates and raised guidance, while Novellus reaffirmed guidance but said SARS is having a big impact. JD Edwards met estimates, and 3Com warned.

During the day, the broader market fell despite better than expected GDP and jobless claims reports. Tech stocks once again finished higher, though.

The Nasdaq rose 11 to 1574, the S&P 500 slipped 3 to 949, and the Dow fell 81 to 8711. Volume surged to 1.67 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.2 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 17-15 on the NYSE, and 18-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 39% on the NYSE, and 66% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 308-6 on the NYSE, and 235-11 on the Nasdaq.

Alcatel and JDS Uniphase surged on speculation that the Baby Bells may soon announce a request for proposals for local optical networks. The whole optical space caught fire, with Redback soaring 53%.

Ask Jeeves fell 8.4% on plans to sell its enterprise search unit.

Tech Data fell 6.3% on a warning, but Agile surged 14% after beating estimates.

eBay slipped 1% on patent concerns.

Palm gained 2% on several partnerships.

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