Net Sector Gives Up Gains, Closes Down Slightly

Several factors, including a desire to close the books on some gains, were possibly at play.
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Is it possible that Commerce One (CMRC) was to blame for the late selloff in the Nasdaq? Perhaps. Or maybe it was James Cramer's column earlier today?

Commerce One finished the day down 6 7/16, or 3%, at 250. That was far from its session high of 331 made around 1:30 p.m. EST. So why would we blame Commerce One? Well, traders have obviously been targeting the 333 level in the stock, or roughly 1,000 when you consider its 3-for-1 split last week. That was the price target that David Garrity, an analyst at

Dresdner Kleinwort Benson

,

placed on the stock last week. Traders likely placed sell orders a couple of dollars in advance of the target, and momentum did the rest.

The session was nearly the exact opposite of what took place yesterday, when Internet stocks staged a late turnaround to close higher. Today, the tech sector was mostly firmer all day before giving back the gains late in the session. Also a contributing factor: Today was the final day to make a trade that could be settled before the end of the year, and those looking to close their books with a nice-sized gain may have taken some profits. (It takes three days to settle a trade.) Because of that factor, traders see volume drying up the rest of the week, which is expected to add to volatility, though it will be hard to top today's action.

Commerce One and many of the

B2B plays were on fire most of the day before selling off late. Selling in Commerce One may also have been related to release of its lockup, which

TSC

detailed in a previous

story. More than 12 million Commerce One shares will come out of lockup on Dec. 28, equal to 3.6 times the 3.3 million shares now available for trading.

VeriSign

(VRSN) - Get Report

finished up 10 9/16, or 6%, at 178 5/16, though it traded as high as 212.

Ariba

(ARBA)

ended up 1/4 at 183 after trading as high as 211.

FreeMarkets

(FMKT)

finished up 23 1/4, or 9%, at 292 5/16, though that was off a high of 337 15/16.

VerticalNet

(VERT)

was one of the only B2B plays that did not give back much, closing up 30 5/8, or 22%, at 172 after trading as high as 181 7/8.

While "new Net" like B2B stocks continued to attract much of the attention, the same could not be said for some of the more traditional names. Investors may be leaving some of the old Net for the hotter plays. We shed no tears for

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, though it did close down 24 3/4, or 6%, at 390 1/4. Other traditional stalwarts like

America Online

(AOL)

and

CMGI

(CMGI)

also were weaker. AOL finished down 1 11/16, or 2%, at 77, while CMGI ended down 10 1/16, or 4%, at 268 1/16.

Internet financial stocks also had an awful day as the sector remained out of favor with Internet investors despite reports of strong trading volumes.

E*Trade

(EGRP)

finished down 2 1/16, or 7%, at 25 3/4, while

Schwab

(SCH)

ended down 1 1/2, or 4%, at 33 7/8 and

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

was off 2, or 9%, at 20 1/2.