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RealTime IT News

Internets Strong Ahead of Fed Meeting

The prospect of another interest rate hike wasn't scaring investors Tuesday, as investors continued to rush into the sector ahead of the afternoon rate announcement.

At 11:45 a.m. Eastern, internet.com's Internet Stock Index had gained 31.29, or 4.43 percent, to 737.93, the Nasdaq Composite was up 108.04 to 3,715.69 and the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 141.87 to 10,949.65.

Analysts attributed the upward swing to new data which showed U.S. consumer prices remained unchanged in April -- the first time the gauge has been stable in more than a year. Helping matters were stability in gas prices, clothing and airline travel. Only time will tell whether the data will play a role in the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's decision on the fed funds rate -- the rate banks pay each other for overnight loans. An announcement is due shortly after 2 p.m. Eastern. Economists are expecting a half-point hike, which would be the largest increase in more than five years.

As for Net stocks, the clear star of the session was Lycos Inc. , which had zoomed up 12-13/16 to 74-7/16. Reports continued to indicate Terra Networks SA will soon announce a deal to buy the search engine. The expected price is more than $10 billion in stock. A deal could come just after U.S. stocks close at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Several other shares were marching higher, including Broadcom Corp. , up 12-3/8 to 167-5/8, BroadVision Inc. had gained 4 to 49-1/2, CMGI Inc. was up 4-9/16 to 64-3/4, Go2Net Inc. , up 3-7/8 to 45-5/8, Inktomi Corp. , up 8-3/4 to 137-1/2 and Infospace.com Inc. , up 3-11/16 to 61-11/16.

Also moving up were Priceline.com Inc. , jumping 5-3/8 to 55-13/16, PSINet Inc. , up 2-3/4 to 27-7/8, VerticalNet Inc. , adding 2-5/8 to 41-3/4, Vignette Corp., up 3-5/8 to 49-5/8, Verisign Inc. , up 7-3/8 to 137-3/16 and Yahoo! Inc. , up 6 to 136.

American depositary receipts of QXL.com were off 1-3/16 to 13-1/8. The British online auctioneer Tuesday bought Germany's Ricardo.de in a stock deal valued at $1 billion. The move positions the company to go head-to-head with eBay Inc. which is also expanding internationally.

Shares of eBay were up 7-3/8 to 134-7/8. Lehman Brothers reiterated its "buy" on eBay, setting a $200 target on the stock. Lehman's Holly Becker predicted eBay may take advantage of the downturn in Net stocks to snap up other companies at bargain prices. She also predicted margins will return to the 25 percent range as early as the fourth quarter.

"The attractiveness of eBay's model came across loud and clear... - it is a profitable, transaction-based business model without inventory risk," she wrote.

Drkoop.com was unchanged at 2-7/16. The online health information site reported a first-quarter loss of $24.8 million, or 80 cents a share, 2 cents better than expectations.


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