Business-to-Business Plays Lead Net Recovery - TheStreet

After spending much of the day deciding what to do, technology stocks rallied into the close, benefiting from friendly economic data released earlier in the day.

The

Nasdaq

closed up 83.16, or 2.2%, at 3851.07 after trading as low as 3695.35 earlier in the day. A downgrade of

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

proved disconcerting, though the soft

retail sales data continued to encourage traders who think the

Federal Reserve

is close to ending its tightening cycle. For dueling thoughts on the Fed, check out our own Jameses,

Cramer and

Padinha.

The grand poobah of the Fed, Chairman

Alan Greenspan

, spoke today, but did not say anything to rile the markets, which also provided a lift. The market faces another key economic report tomorrow with the

Consumer Price Index

, and another friendly report would likely set the stage for a big rally. The recovery also coincided with the close of bond futures trading. Bonds were down much of the day, and the market occasionally waits for that market to close before moving.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index closed up 13.55, or 1.5%, at 913.63. Among the better performing Net stocks,

Redback Networks

(RBAK)

closed up 15 5/16, or 14%, to 123 13/16, though with no news behind the gains.

Akamai

(AKAM) - Get Report

closed up 9 3/8, or 10.6%, at 98;

Commerce One

(CMRC)

finished up 4 5/16, or 8.3%, at 56 3/8;

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

added 3 11/16, or 9.2%, to 43 13/16; and

Check Point Software

(CHKP) - Get Report

powered up 18 7/16, or 8.8%, to 228 5/8.

Salomon Smith Barney

initiated coverage of three B2B stocks, giving buy ratings to both

E.piphany

(EPNY)

and

Vignette

(VIGN)

, and a less-friendly outperform rating to

Broadvision

(BVSN) - Get Report

. E.piphany closed up 10 13/16, or 12%, at 98 1/16, Vignette added 7/16, or 1.2%, to 38 1/2, while Broadvision ended up 3, or 6%, at 52.

Also among B2B plays,

PurchasePro.com

(PPRO)

closed up 9 1/16, or 30%, at 39.

Prudential Volpe

put out a note on PurchasePro saying business was strong and tracking ahead of its estimate of $7 million in revenue and a loss of 32 cents a share. Prudential has done underwriting for PurchasePro.

On the downside,

NBCi

(NBCI)

finished off 7, or 28%, at 17 5/8 after the company warned of lower-than-expected revenue. The stock was downgraded by a number of research firms on the news. And the warning suggested trouble for other Net firms that rely on consumer ad revenue.

About.com

(BOUT) - Get Report

closed down 4 5/8, or 12%, at 33 3/8. And

CNet

(CNET) - Get Report

, which owns roughly 11% of NBCi, closed down 2 11/16, or 8%, at 31 3/8.