Wall Street pared some earlier gains but closed in positive territory Thursday, helped by computer chip giant Intel Corp.'s upbeat assessment of the industry and better-than-expected weekly jobless data.

``A lot of money has been burned up and it is going to take time for investors to heal, to resave and redeploy,'' said Tom Sparico, managing director of equities at broker/dealer Bengal Partners. ``It is going to take time for us to work our way back to the confidence levels that business investment will grow at a fast enough pace to add to earnings growth of something more than single digits.''

The technology-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 19 points to 2,087.38 after climbing more than 1.6 percent early in the session and then dipping into negative ground. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average gained 41.17 points to 10,551.18, off its highs. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 4.82 points at 1,220.75.

Upbeat comments from Intel sparked a modest early-morning rally, but stocks started to weaken at mid-session. It was the third day in a row an early stocks rally fizzled. On Wednesday, the Nasdaq ended up 41.25 points, the Dow slipped 12.80 points and the S&P finished up 4.70 points.

Intel's president, Craig Barrett, said the personal computer industry has bottomed out and that demand for personal computers was expected to rebound in the second half of 2001.

But he said the rebound was on seasonal rather than fundamental factors, noting a full-blown rebound depends on the global economy recovering. Most Intel revenue come from chip sales to computer makers and the remarks prompted investors to bid up semiconductor and computer stocks, analysts said.

``The burst of enthusiasm was fueled when Intel said the demand for personal computers should rebound in the second half. That's the big thing,'' said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Joseph Gunnar & Co., which has about $750 million under management.

Thursday's advance built on a rally in tech stocks Wednesday after top brokerage Merrill Lynch turned bullish on battered chipmakers, as it became the latest Wall Street house to say the beleaguered sector may have seen the worse.

Investors took heart in government data showing claims for unemployment benefits dropped for the third straight week last week. But another report kept optimism in check by suggesting the manufacturing sector is still struggling to climb out of a painful recession. Wall Street is hoping Friday's employment numbers for July will offer a better read on the U.S. economy.

Intel shares, which are part of the 30-stock Dow average, rose $1.36 to $32.11, and were the most active issue on the Nasdaq. The world's No. 1 maker of chips for personal computers was the most active issue on the Nasdaq.

Among computing issues, Dell Computer climbed $1.25 to $28.43, while IBM, a Dow stock, advanced $1.74 to $108.80.

Microsoft Corp., another Dow component and Nasdaq heavyweight, gained 98 cents to $67.45. A federal appeals court rejected the software giant's request to re-examine part of its ruling in the landmark antitrust case against the firm and also declined to speed the case's passage back to a lower court, a move sought by the U.S. government.

Helping sentiment was a number of relatively upbeat earnings reports. Among those Computer Sciences Corp., the world's No. 3 computer services supplier, said quarterly earnings fell, but were in line with lowered forecasts. The company also said revenues rose 10 percent. Shares rose $3.61 to $37.15. 

But among the big losers, telephone and data services firm McLeodUSA Inc. lost 55 cents to $2.27 . It said late on Wednesday its second-quarter net loss, before items, widened from a year ago and a number of brokerages issued negative remarks about the company.

Global Crossing Ltd., which built a high-speed fiber-optic network, slumped $1.32 to $5.68 after posting a wider quarterly loss, slashing its revenue-growth outlook for the year, and planning to cut 2,000 jobs.

Advancing issues on the Big Board outnumbered decliners, 1,783 to 1,272. On the Nasdaq, 1,854 stocks rose and 1,777 fell. Roughly 1.2 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange and about 1.7 billion on the Nasdaq, based on the latest available numbers.

The Russell 2000 index slipped 0.08 to 489.32. 

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average climbed 3.7 percent. European stocks were mixed. Germany's DAX index fell 0.5 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 was up 0.6 percent, and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.5 percent.

 

-- Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.