News Burst: Markets get respite from gloom

Positive earnings, outlook news from tech companies halts market decline - for now

UK markets were up in mid-morning trading Friday, responding to positive financial results and reassuring outlooks from bellwethers Microsoft, Nokia and Sun Microsystems and positive movement from US markets.

The FTSE 100 index of blue-chips was up 56.8 to 6272.8 by 1100 GMT, with the techMARK 100 index of high-tech companies up 82.9 to 3410.6.

US markets recovered somewhat in trading Thursday, the Dow gaining 167.96 or 1.68 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq up 247.04 or nearly 8 percent.

However, analysts said the market is still in a gloomy mood and more drops are likely. In the US, technology indexes remain off 20 percent from their 1 September levels. Selected sectors among Internet, semiconductor and software stocks are off 40 to 50 percent since early last month. (See ZDNet's Q3 Earnings Roundup.)

Microsoft, for example, has recovered just two weeks of losses. At current levels it is still down 50 percent from its year high.

In the mean time, the damage has already been done to many UK tech companies, with Freeserve due to leave the FTSE 100 index beginning Monday.

More details to follow.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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