Positive Inflation News Sends Stocks Higher

U.S. markets were up across the board Friday as investors applauded the latest economic figures which suggest inflation remains at bay.

At 11:45 a.m. Eastern, internet.com’s Internet Stock Index had climbed 29.61, or 2.93 percent, to 1,041.21, the Nasdaq Composite had jumped 85.42 to 4,802.81 and the Dow Jones industrial average had added 95.55 to 10,726.15.

The government reported Friday the nation’s consumer price index rose 0.5 percent in February. Excluding food and energy prices, which have been dramatically affected by the rising cost of oil, the rate climbed only 0.2 percent. Analysts had expected a rise of 0.4 percent in the overall CPI and an 0.2 percent rise in the core rate. Economists said the numbers looked positive and believe the rise in fuel costs will prohibit an interest rates hike in the near future.

The news was benefitting a number of Internet plays, particularly the B2B success stories. Climbers included Broadcom Corp. (BRCM), up 7-15/16 to 220-3/4, Checkpoint Software (CHKP) jumping 18-7/8 to 238 and Concentric Network Corp. (CNCX) was up 4-1/4 to 54-1/8.

Other big gainers included Inktomi Corp. (INKT), up 19-11/16 to 220-3/4, Juniper Networks (JNPR) had jumped 20 to 257, Real Networks Inc. (RNWK) had added 5-1/2 to 67-5/8 and Verio Inc. (VRIO) had risen 3-1/2 to 56.

Newsmakers included America Online Inc. (AOL), which had gained 2-1/16 to 64-1/16. The company purchased Bertelsmann AG’s stake in AOL Europe and AOL Australia in a deal that could be worth up to $8.25 billion. Bertelsmann will use the money to build its e-commerce business.

China.com Corp. (CHINA) had added 5-3/8 to 115-3/8. The company is teaming with Softbank to create a $100 million joint venture that will offer consulting services to Internet companies targeting Asia.

Exodus Communications (EXDS) had jumped 8-15/16 to 149. CS First Boston’s Tim Newington said the company is positioned to dominate the Web hosting market and is on target with its infrastructure expansions.

Lehman Brothers also reiterated its “buy” on the stock.

Broadvision Inc. (BVSN) was up 3-15/16 to 77-1/4. CS First Boston reiterated its “buy” on the stock.

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