A little chatter, a coupla bidders, and bang, there's a Net stock runaway as players of every size try to position themselves in the uncertain future of portal




Lycos shares ran up about 13 to over 109 halfway through the trading day after the company's largest shareholder,



, and its CEO, David Wetherell, said it wouldn't bite at

USA Networks'

(USAI) - Get Report

takeover bid and had hired

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to find another buyer.

The options traffic on Lycos was, however, as confused as the flow of information coming out of the players, says one

American Stock Exchange

floor trader dealing in Lycos.

"The public was buying a lot of calls in the early morning, but that has pretty much stopped," the trader says. "There's a lot of uncertainty, and that's being reflected in the options. The options paper isn't saying much."

On Tuesday morning, put sellers hit the market in another "very, very mixed day," according to the trader.

Wednesday's morning call buyers did up the ante on what playing a potential deal was worth to them. While some play stayed in the March options, despite a triple-witch expiration on March 19, most of the takeover play seemed to be gravitating to the April contracts.

"There's more of a chance to speculate in the out-of-the-money options: the April 120s and 130s," says Michael Schwartz, the senior options strategist at

CIBC Oppenheimer

. "The volatility is telling us that it's not going to be a 5- or 10-point premium."

That action sent volume on the April 110 and 120 calls over the 600 mark by midday. The premium on the April 110 calls ran 7 1/2 ($750) to 14 ($1,400), and the 120s' juice climbed 4 ($400) to 8 7/8 ($887.50).

Trading the March options on Lycos may be a risky proposition for players who are looking for an even larger pop from a deal. With just more than a week left in the cycle, it's unlikely that any deal will be locked up that quickly. The next week is sure to be volatile for Lycos options, which typically trade at an 85% volatility. That reading has been higher, as much as 130%, according to Schwartz. "There's plenty of room here," he says.

The American Stock Exchange's launch of its

Nasdaq 100

depository receipts and options is producing early success.

Halfway through its first day of trading, more than 2 million shares and 2,000 options have traded, making the debut of QQQ (the symbol) the most successful joint launch in recent memory.