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STOCKS ADVANCE ON PROFIT HOPES

Stocks rose as investors bet the slowdown in corporate profit growth has passed. Tech stocks rose even with the expected release later in the day of earnings from Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer.

"I'm not sure that the earnings of Hewlett Packard and Dell matter anymore. Everyone expects sloppy earnings," said Peter Anderson, chief investment officer at American Express Financial Advisors. "We're in a trading range. We're going to have periodic rallies that are quite strong and then corrections that are quite nasty. This is part of that pattern"

At 1 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average advanced 110.17 to 10,905.58. The tech-focused Nasdaq composite index rose 97.78 to 2,589.18, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 14.90 to 1,330.82.

Ciena rose $6.19 to $83. The No. 2 U.S. fiber-optic equipment maker said fiscal first-quarter profit excluding items surged almost sixfold to 18 cents a share, 3 cents higher than analysts forecast. The company also raised its 2001 sales estimate for the second time in less than three months.

VeriSign rose $1.37 to $64. Lehman Brothers analyst Israel Hernandez rated the Internet security and name-registration services company "buy" in new coverage. The shares should reach $70 within a year, Hernandez wrote in a note to clients.

Hewlett-Packard rose 85 cents to $35.24, and Dell Computer rose 50 cents to $23.44. Both companies report earnings after exchanges close today.

Office Depot fell 19 cents to $9.26. The No. 1 U.S. office-supply retailer reported a fourth-quarter loss of 57 cents a share as it cut prices on computers, paper, toner and other products to spur sluggish sales.

Charles Schwab fell $2.12 to $22.64. Lower trading volume at the biggest online brokerage means profit forecasts will be "quite tough," to meet, Chief Financial Officer Christopher Dodds said in an interview.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which owns Dunlop Tire in Amherst, rose 11 cents to $24.31. The biggest tiremaker said it will eliminate 7,200 more jobs this year.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services declined 88 cents to $17.81. The shipping company said it expects first-quarter profit to trail analysts' forecasts.

USG Corp. slipped 19 cents to $21.75. The maker of wallboard cut its quarterly dividend by 83 percent to 2.5 cents a share to conserve cash it expects will be needed to settle asbestos-related claims.

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