Just when you're ready to concede things to the bears, along come the bulls, cleaning things up way quicker than the Washington, D.C., snow crew could get that city rolling again.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index, or DOT, closed up 18.71, or 1.7%, at 1146.48. The DOT was trading at 1106.04 with about an hour and a half to go in the session before staging the late rally. A recovery in

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

appeared to be the catalyst. Yahoo!, which has been crushed since reporting earnings two weeks ago, bounced above and below unchanged much of the day before pushing firmly into positive territory in the final two hours of trading. It finished up 21 1/4, or 6.6%, at 345 9/16 after trading as low as 316 1/4. However, there was no news behind the move and it appeared to be based as much on short-covering as bargain hunting.

And the sector could see some follow-through buying tomorrow if it takes its cue from a couple of companies that reported after the close.

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

was trading around 166 in after-hours trading after closing up 11, or 7.5%, at 157 7/8. The streaming-media company reported earnings after the close that beat Street estimates, while also announcing a 2-for-1 stock split. Earnings of 7 cents a share were 2 cents better than the

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate.

Also,

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

was trading higher after it reported earnings of 4 cents a share for its fourth quarter, beating the Street estimate by 2 cents. eBay was trading around 144 after-hours after closing up 1 1/8, or 0.8%, at 137 1/2.

Earnings were the focus for a number of Net stocks, though results varied. Among the day's winners was

About.com

(BOUT) - Get Report

, which closed up 25 15/16, or 41%, at 89 after besting earnings estimates last night.

Also,

homestore.com

(HOMS)

, which matched Street estimates with a 23-cent loss, closed up 25 3/4, or 27%, at 122 1/4. Investors may have been cheering the company's revenue of $28.1 million, up 36% over revenue of $20.7 million for the third quarter of 1999.

Despite the late comeback, there were few signs that the rally was the start of something bigger. The market must still deal with

Fed

Chairman

Alan Greenspan's

speech to

Congress

tomorrow, and it still has earnings from a few high-profile names to get through.

"It's a tough read right now," said one trader, accurately summing up what much of Wall Street is thinking. "It's a really tough read."

According to the trader, buying on the dips continues to work and until it doesn't, setbacks like ones seen yesterday will be bought back. The trader said there are still a number of factors at play. He said the Net sector typically sees some selling after the earnings season, but he expects it to be only a brief selloff and more enthusiasm will surface ahead of quarter-end.

He pointed to trading activity in the DOT last year, when it slipped from mid-January into February, then rallied again heading into earnings season in April before correcting. He added that while the market has gone a long way toward pricing in a couple of rate hikes from the Fed, any signs that inflation is picking up would hurt, as it could suggest a more aggressive Fed.