Net Stocks Continue Freefall

Investors were again beating down Internet stocks Wednesday, sending a number of sector leaders down more than 5 percent. However, in contrast to previous sessions, blue chips were managing small gains.

At 11:45 a.m. Eastern,’s Internet Stock Index had fallen 11.14, or 1.87 percent, to 585.14, the Nasdaq Composite was off 21.03 to 3,143.52 and the Dow Jones industrial average was up 41.80 to 10,464.07.

Stocks caught in the downward spiral included Inc. , down 2-13/16 to 43-7/8, Ariba Inc. , was off 3-3/4 to 50-1/8, Broadvision Inc. , had lost 3-1/16 to 32 and E*Trade Group Inc. , was down 2-7/16 to 13-5/16.

Also lower were Exodus Communications , tumbling 7-1/4 to 55-3/8, Sportsline Inc. , down 15/16 to 11-5/8, VerticalNet Inc. , falling 3-7/8 to 32-5/8 and Vignette Inc. , tumbling 4-1/16 to 25-1/2.

Be Free Inc. jumped 3/4 to 10 after Andy Lanyi of CIBC World Markets told Business Week the Internet marketer’s shares may benefit from a number of new customer adoptions.

America Online Inc. was off 1/4 to 49-1/4 and MCI Worldcom was up 1-1/16 to 37-5/16. The two companies Wednesday announced a marketing alliance. WorldCom will market AOL to its phone customers. Anyone signing up under the deal will also get an hour of free long distance calls each month.

RealNetworks Inc. was off 1/8 to 32-1/16. The company agreed Wednesday to work with Intel Corp. on the next generation of Intel’s streaming media software, included in Real’s RealVideo 8 and RealSystem 8.

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