Bullish Outlook for AOL Helping Internets

America Online Inc. was leading the Internet sector higher in midday trading Wednesday as shares continue to benefit from the increasing popularity of AOL’s Instant Messenger and positive comments from executives during an analyst conference call.

Just before noon, internet.com’s Internet Stock Index had jumped 12.68, or 3 percent, to 435.86, the Nasdaq Composite was up 5.52 to 2,570.50 and the Dow Jones industrial average had climbed 56.04 to 10,843.84.

America Online (AOL) climbed 2-7/16 to 94-13/16. On Wednesday, the company told analysts it is on track to meet earnings estimates for the current quarter. AOL also signed a deal with Novell Inc. to put its Instant Messenger software into Novell’s directory software.

All of the other sector leaders were higher as well, with Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) up 3-3/4 to 94-11/16, Ariba Inc. (ARBA) gaining 6-5/8 to 114-1/2, [email protected] (ATHM) jumping 3-1/16 to 38-1/2, eBay Inc. (EBAY) adding 4-11/16 to 92-3/8, Verisign Inc. (VRSN) jumping 4-3/8 to 77-3/8 and Yahoo! Inc. moved up 4-1/8 to 132-3/16.

Modem Media Poppe Tyson (MMPT) had soared 4-11/16 to 25-3/16. The company Thursday won an $11 million contract from General Electric Co. Modem Media will provide Internet and intranet planning and marketing services to several GE units.

24/7 Media Inc. (TFSM) had gained 2-1/4 to 29 after Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to near-term “buy” from near-term “accumulate.”

BroadVision Inc. (BVSN) was off 3 to 88. Kaufman Brothers on Thursday downgraded the stock to “accumulate” from “buy.”

Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN) lost 1-1/2 to 68-1/2. On Thursday, Priceline priced shares of its secondary offering. The company plans to sell an additional 4.5 million shares at $67.

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