Tale of Two Halves

Markets fell victim to a steep sell-off in early morning trade before
bouncing off an inflection point that saw much of the losses erased by
late-afternoon. Bargain hunters moved in on healthy volume after falling
through key support levels to help stocks stabilize a shaky start to the week.

Bellwethers recovered well off their lows of the day as the NYSE managed to
shed 84.30 to 10,542.55, while technology and Internet stocks saw a sharp
rebound to send the Nasdaq easing 26.16 to 3,364.24. The ISDEX headed
modestly higher, up 0.18% on the day.

Just like clockwork, the acquiring company’s share price typically tumbles,
while the acquiree’s stock heads higher on news of a buyout. Such was the
case with today’s news of Vignette’s $1.7
billion planned acquisition of e-commerce software developer
OnDisplay . Vignette’s stock fell 8-15/16 to
34-7/8, as shares of OnDisplay edged up 7/8 to 54-1/8.

Yet another example of divergent merger stocks took place when XML-based
B2B software maker webMethods announced plans to
acquire Active Software in a $1.3 billion
stock-swap. WebMethods crumbled 15 to 72, lopping off $400 million in
market cap, while Active Software climbed $6 per share early, before
showing late-day weakness, retreating 15/16 to 32-1/16.

Even its announcement of a business-to-employee joint venture portal with
Bank of America couldn’t save shares of
BroadVision , as the one-to-one software
developer’s stock plunged 3-15/16 to 38-13/16 on the news.

Soft volume numbers released by the Nasdaq showed signs of waning stock
trade interest by investors victimized by recent market mood swings. On the
heels of the data, online brokerages took it on the chin at the opening
bell, but many investors came to their senses by the closing bell. Shares
of discount giant Charles Schwab opened $4 lower,
but managed to finish the day up 1/16 to 41-15/16, while E*Trade
wasn’t quite so fortunate, ending down 2-7/8 to 16-1/2.

Blue chip Nets were on the ropes early before coming out swinging to wrap
up the day. Online auctioneer eBay briefly
flirted with double digits in mid-afternoon before investors sent shares
rocketing 18 to 136-3/16 by the close of trade. Shares of Yahoo!
followed suit, opening near its low of the day, and
finishing at its high up 5-5/16 to 126-1/4.

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