Technology stocks were on the way toward erasing early-session losses, only to see renewed selling late in the day.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index closed down 27.34, or 2.1%, at 1292.97, closer to its session high of 1318.58 than its session low of 1247.84.
TheStreet.com New Tech 30 finished down 96.68, or 10.7%, at 809.48.
According to one trader, who requested anonymity, there may have been some apprehension ahead of a slew of economic data the rest of the week. Retail sales will be reported tomorrow, with inflation data coming on Thursday and Friday. Losses early in the session came in reaction to a sharp drop in both European and Japanese markets, with the Japanese technology
sector particularly hard hit.
The trader also said the market was in a bit of a holding pattern. He said it needs to get through the economic data and next week's Federal Reserve meeting before it can turn its attention to first-quarter earnings. But getting through the data will not be an easy task. According to a
Standard & Poor's MMS
survey, median expectations for retail sales will be a strong 1% gain overall and a 0.7% gain excluding auto sales. Thursday's
Producer Price Index
is forecast to rise a strong 0.6% overall and 0.3%, excluding food and energy. Friday's
Consumer Price Index
is expected to rise by 0.4% overall and 0.2% excluding food and energy.
"I think there's just a lot of uncertainty out there and this volatility reflects that uncertainty," the trader continued. He said that, assuming what's going on in the international markets is not a big deal, the market would be influenced by offsetting factors of healthy inflows. He also hopes for strong earnings numbers vs. concerns about the
and high valuations in the technology sector. The trader also said losses over the next week should be seen as a buying opportunity into earnings season, but expected to see selling after the "fact" of strong numbers.
Among the day's losers were the Internet incubators, although they have rallied sharply of late.
Internet Capital Group
closed down 14 1/2, or 10%, at 129 1/16, while
finished down 21 1/2, or 8%, at 250.
ended down 4 3/16, or 3%, at 132 1/4.
Also reeling were some B2B plays in what most likely was profit-taking.
finished down 32, or 10%, at 285 1/2.
closed off 19 3/16, or 7%, at 254 and
closed down 14 1/16, or 8%, at 155 3/4.
Also hard hit was
, which suffered after the Latin American portal told analysts it would need to spend more to maintain its revenue growth. Both
Salomon Smith Barney
downgraded the stock today. It finished down 17 1/4, or 34.5%, at 32 3/4.
On the upside, shares of
rose, though without any news attached to the gains. It ended up 16 1/2, or 8.5%, at 201 3/4. There may be some enthusiasm as the online auctioneer is in what is traditionally its strongest quarter of the year.
Finally, there were a couple of mergers.
closed down 16 13/16, or 8%, at 191 3/16 on news that it was buying rival business-to-business software maker
. Aspect finished up 11 13/16, or 14%, at 96 13/16.
ended up 1 5/8, or 12.5%, at 14 5/8 on news that it would be acquired by
. CoreComm finished up 1 1/8, or 2%, at 49.
, which rose 18% in its debut
Friday (a less-than-stellar IPO by today's over-inflated IPO standards) was down 1 3/16, or 8% at 13, a dollar above its 12 offer price.
, which had a high-profile
offering in November, is also trading considerably lower than its IPO price. It was off 1 3/8, or 12%, at 10 7/16 today. Webvan reached an all-time low of 9 7/16 on March 1.
Internet grocers are bearing the brunt of the downturn in the e-tailing sector. "Generally, e-tailers have been weak," said IPO analyst Randall Roth of
IPO Plus Aftermarket Fund. "Webvan is following the lead of some of the other companies in that space."