After a Strong Start, Net Sector Loses a Little Shine

Triple-witching and profit-taking could be factors in the dropoff.
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The quick start in the technology and Internet sectors was fading after the first hour of trading. Blame it on triple-witching or traders taking advantage of the early pop to book some profits.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 1.24, or 0.1%, at 1124.87 in recent trading after reaching a high of 1163.77 in the first five minutes of the session. Today's quarterly expiration of stock-option, index-option and index-futures contracts was likely providing some volatility, though money was still flowing into the tech sector.

Both

EarthWeb

(EWBX)

and

Globalnet Financial.com

(GLBN)

were benefiting from positive mentions in the Inside Wall Street column in this week's

Business Week

.

EarthWeb was singled out as potentially the dominant business-to-business provider of online services to information technology companies. It was up 2 3/8, or 6.4%, at 39 1/4. Globalnet Financial.com, which provides online investment data, including currency and equity trading, was plugged in the column by

Proton Capital

, which has a 4% stake in the company. It was up 1/2, or 1.8%, at 29 after trading as high as 31 7/8. Traders often look for the stocks mentioned in the column to pop, then they get out quickly.

It's been a mixed season for Internet e-commerce companies, which by most accounts have seen solid sales, but stock prices have lagged. In

Robertson Stephens'

weekly Web report, analyst Lauren Cooks Levitan noted that while Robbie Stephens'

NETDEX

index has surged more than 72% in the past three months, its eTailDEX has advanced about 9%. And over the past month, the NETDEX increased 16% while the eTailDEX has inched up only 2%.

But Robertson Stephens still expects e-tailers that "deliver the most impressive Q4 results to buck this trend," though analysts indicated it may take until early January, when the companies begin to provide sales data for the quarter. "Until then, we recommend a selective investment approach and remain focused on those e-tailers that seem to demonstrate the most solid performance," she wrote.

Among prominent e-tailers,

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

was down 1/8, or 0.1%, at 94 3/4 after trading as high as 97 5/8 early in the session.

eToys

(ETYS)

was down 1/16, or 0.2%, at 39 7/8.

Also of interest in the weekly report was the eBusiness Update. Analyst Eric Upin reported that the business-to-business e-commerce group now carries an aggregate market cap of $65 billion. And about $7.6 billion of that was contributed by

FreeMarkets

(FMKT)

, the online auction site for businesses. Take a look at our own James Cramer's

B2B rotisserie league to check out the hottest of the hot.