Stocks Split Following Productivity Report

The major U.S. indices were trading in different directions at midday Thursday amid news that the productivity of American workers grew at a slower-than-expected rate in the first quarter although labor costs continue to increase.

The Labor Department reported Thursday non-farm payrolls grew 2.4 percent in the first quarter, lower than the 3 percent economists had forecast. The government also revised productivity numbers for the fourth quarter to show a growth of 6.9 percent. Meanwhile, labor costs jumped 1.8 percent in the first quarter, well ahead of the 1 percent hike expected. Both numbers are closely watched by the Federal Reserve as worker shortages can cause inflation to increase.

At 11:45 a.m. Eastern,’s Internet Stock Index had fallen 10.19, or 1.37 percent, to 732.11, the Nasdaq Composite was up 6.32 to 3,713.63 and the Dow Jones industrial average was off 44.37 to 10,435.76.

Despite lower averages, several Internets were showing strength. They included Inktomi Corp. (INKT) had gained 9-7/8 to 155-1/16. The maker of Internet infrastructure software Thursday formed a wireless agreement with Nokia Corp. (NOK) and an advertising agreement with Doubleclick Inc. (DCLK)

Sapient Corp. (SAPE) had soared 16 to 95-3/8. The company, which helps corporations build Internet-enabled business systems, will replace Reynolds Metals Co. in the S&P 500.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) was up 1-7/16 to 123-1/2. Wit/Soundview upgraded shares to a “strong buy,” setting a $170 target. Inc. (HOMS) was up 1/4 to 23-3/8. The company reported a first-quarter pro-forma loss of 14 cents, 2 cents better than expected.

On the losing side, Peapod (PPOD) was off 1/16 to 3-3/16. The online grocer reported a first-quarter net loss of 47 cents a share, a penny higher than expected. On the positive side, revenue jumped to $24.9 million, up from $18 million a year ago.

Charles Schwab (SCH) had slumped 2-5/16 to 42-15/16. The brokerage Thursday announced plans for a 3-for-2 stock split to take effect May 30.

ZDNet (ZDZ) was down 1-1/16 to 14-3/8. The online technology publisher reported a net loss of 2 cents a share in the first quarter, 2 cents better than expected.

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