RealTime IT News

Consumer Confidence Dip Puts Damper on Markets

News that the Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell for the third straight month had sent all major U.S. market indices south in midday trading Tuesday, including the volatile Internet sector.

The September consumer confidence index dipped to 134.2 from a revised reading of 136.0 in August. Economists had predicted a reading of 136.3. The figure is derived from a survey of 5,000 U.S. households who are asked to gauge their optimism on the economy.

Just before noon, internet.com's Internet Stock Index was off 10.36, or 2.02 percent, to 502.67, the Nasdaq Composite had fallen 47.96 to 2,713.79 and the Dow Jones industrial average had lost 111.44 to 10,191.95.

Domain registrar Network Solutions Inc. (NSOL) had jumped 7-1/8 to 79-15/16 on news the company, the Department of Commerce and the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers had resolved the issues in their ongoing domain dispute.

Several leaders were in the news Tuesday, including America Online Inc. (AOL) up 1-5/16 to 102-7/16. AOL and China Internet Corp., an affiliate of China.com Corp. (CHINA) Tuesday launched a Hong Kong edition of AOL.

Also, AOL and Marketwatch.com (MKTW) Tuesday unveiled a deal that will make CBS Marketwatch a provider of financial news on several AOL brands. Marketwatch was up 1-3/4 to 47-1/8 on the news.

Many other leaders were off, including Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) down 3-3/16 to 178-3/16 and eBay Inc. (EBAY) off 2-1/2 to 136-1/4.

Several players in the e-finance sector were in the news, thanks to a wave of analyst action. E*Trade Group Inc. (EGRP) was down 1/4 to 22-1/8. Salomon Smith Barney Tuesday initiated coverage with a "market outperform" rating and a $26 target. Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD) was down 9/16 to 17-3/16. Salomon also initiated coverage with a "neutral" rating. Finally, DLJdirect was down 1 to 15 after Salomon downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "market outperform."

Net2Phone (NTOP) had fallen 3-5/8 to 56-1/4 despite reporting better-than-expected earnings. Net2Phone reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of 10 cents a share, excluding one-time items. Analysts had predicted a 13-cent loss.

Chase Manhattan Bank (CMB) was down 1 to 73-1/8 after the company said it was buying investment boutique Hambrecht & Quist for $1.35 billion in cash. Hambrecht has underwritten several familiar Internet IPOs.

Online grocer Peapod (PPOD) had jumped 1-5/16 to 9-5/16 after the company announced Bill Malloy had joined as its new chief executive officer. Malloy comes to Peapod from AT&T's wireless division.


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