Take away weak performance in a group of e-tailers, and the Internet sector continued to hum along with the rest of the technology sector. TheStreet.com Internet Sector index closed up 30.66, or 2.7%, at 1177.50.

According to one market participant, the Net sector is behaving differently this February than last, when it suffered losses following earnings season. The trader said that with the sector growing so much, earnings were stretching longer into the first quarter, and already there are expectations for a strong first quarter as companies begin to spend more money on technology after cutting spending last November because of Y2K.

That's one reason, he said, for the strength in Net infrastructure and software companies. A multitude of subsectors in the Internet arena has made it easier to find some kind of catalyst or group of stocks that is hot at any particular time, he said, fueling interest in the sector overall.

The trader said there are a couple of potential stumbling blocks over the next week, including

Federal Reserve

Chairman

Alan Greenspan's

Humphrey-Hawkins testimony next Thursday, and inflation data, which also is reported next week. But the trader does not expect much to stand in the way of the market into first-quarter reporting season. Early tax refunds could continue to maintain flows into tech, while there has been a limited amount of short-selling because shorts continue to get burned.

Among the stellar performers today were

Network Solutions

(NSOL)

, up 36 5/16, or 14%, at 292 5/16 after reporting

earnings this morning, and

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

closed up 15 9/16, or 15%, at 118 1/2. The company said that it had signed 198 new

TechSolutions

clients in the fourth quarter of 1999. TechSolutions provides comprehensive interactive marketing services and software solutions.

Also,

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

closed up 23 1/2, or 13%, at 208 1/2 as Internet infrastructure companies continued to flourish.

VeriSign

(VRSN) - Get Report

ended up 24 15/16, or 13%, at 219 3/4.

Among the decliners were

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

, off 4 1/16, or 5%, at 76 3/16;

priceline.com

(PCLN)

, down 2 3/16, or 3.7%, at 56 1/4;

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

, down 1 5/8, or 1%, at 162 3/8; and

eToys

(ETYS)

, down 9/16, or 3.6%, at 15 3/16.