E-tailers Stand Out in Quiet Session

Shares of leading Internet retailers were about the only excitement to be found across the sector at midday Tuesday as another blue chip rally was stealing the limelight.

At noon Eastern, internet.com’s Internet Stock Index was up 3.53, or .36 percent, to 982.72, the Nasdaq Composite had lost 21.55 to 4,588.45 and the Dow Jones industrial average, boosted by strength in financial stocks, had climbed 157.91 to 10,838.15.

In early afternoon, focus will shift to the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, which is set to announce its latest decision on short-term interest rates at 2:15 p.m. Eastern.

E-commerce plays got good news Monday when a committee advising Congress on e-commerce issues approved a recommendation that would not implement any new taxes on Internet purchases. However, the group failed to approve the proposal by a two-thirds majority which means it will not be in the official report set to be submitted to Congress in late April.

Still, the action was benefiting several sector leaders, including Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), up 2-1/8 to 66-5/16, eBay Inc. (EBAY), rising 2-1/8 to 198-1/4 and Ticketmaster-Citysearch (TMCS), gaining 1-1/4 to 27-1/8.

Ask Jeeves Inc. (ASKJ) had vaulted 5-5/8 to 67-1/2. US Bancorp Piper Jaffray Tuesday initiated coverage of the stock with a “strong buy.” The firm expects Ask Jeeves to hit $193 in the next year.

Macromedia Inc. (MACR) was unchanged at 80 after hitting 86 earlier in the session. The maker of Web design software will be added to the S&P MidCap 400 index.

3Com Corp. (COMS) had fallen 5-3/16 to 63-3/8. The computer networking company announced plans to sell its analog modem unit. It will also lay off up to 25 percent of its workers as part of a plan to stop making corporate network equipment.

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