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Tech Stocks Little Changed in Afternoon Trade; Investors, Analysts Like AOL's Unloading Patch into JV

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Technology stocks are little changed, with shares of technology companies in the S&P 500 falling less than 0.1% this afternoon.

AOL ( AOL ) shares rose to their best price in more than five years after the company late Wednesday announced a joint venture partnership with Hale Global to operate AOL's Patch network of local news websites. Under the terms of the agreement, AOL will contribute Patch into a new limited liability company, which will be operated and majority owned by Hale Global.

Hale Global is a technology holding company that partners with other companies to invest in and manage businesses facing operational or strategic difficulties.

Specific financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. AOL in November reported a $44 million restructuring charge largely tied to Patch and last month said it was limiting its future exposure but insisted it was not ready to shutter the news service.

Following the Patch announcement, analysts at CRT Capital raised their investment call for AOL shares to Buy from Fair Value, saying the deal removes a major distraction for the company.

AOL shares added nearly 9% in recent trade, reaching $51.41 apiece - just 8 cents off its new 52-week high.

In other sector news,

(+) ZOOM, (+20.5%) Makes non-binding offer to acquire Tinho Union Holding Group for up to $81 mln in stock, with half of the 9.36 mln shares held in escrow released as Tinho reaches earnings milestones in 2013 and 2014; shares pro-rated if it doesn't.

(-) GTAT, (-0.1%) CFO Richard Gaynor resigns and will be be replaced by Raja Bal, currently corporate controller at Skyworks ( SWKS ). The company also reaffirmed its 2014 guidance expecting $600 million to $800 million in revenue. The Street is at $692.5 mln.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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