Pulse: Weekend May be Near, but Nasdaq Feels Blue - TheStreet

Today's triple-witching session adds another layer to the confusion traders must be feeling about the market. On Monday and Tuesday, the tech sector performed terribly, rebounded in the middle of the week, only to slide again late Thursday and today.

In recent trading, the

Nasdaq was down 102.8 to 3811.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was off 17.54 to 802.30.

In his morning note, Robert Dickey, director of technical research with

Dain Rausher Wessels

, took a look at the impact of triple witching, which is the quarterly expiration of stock options, index options and index futures.

"A triple witching expiration will often exaggerate whatever trend is in place in the market, as the short option players get squeezed into covering their puts or calls that are running in the money," he wrote. "However, the current trend is one of a real mixing pot without even a short-term direction on the indices."

And Dickey goes on to say he expects more of the same in the next week. He notes it is difficult to build a bullish or bearish case from a technical point of view, while fundamentals can be seen as either bullish or bearish. "The market could be stuck in the range until after the third quarter reports are behind it," he wrote. "The path of least resistance is for more of the same neutral action, until proven otherwise."

We also came upon a wonderful note from John Roque, vice president with

Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder

, in which he provides pros and cons on a number of issues.

Regarding sentiment, he notes that there's a crowd with the opinion that everyone is too negative, and when sentiment is this bad, stocks rally. Roque's response, "Yeah, but sentiment is not as one sided as you think. The tech and telecom crowd is fairly depressed, but the value guys, well, let's just say they're feelin' pretty virile these days. Our anecdotal evidence may not mean much, but the split tells us downside and upside are limited for the major averages. The best thing to do is not to watch the

DJIA, Nasdaq, or

S&P 500 because they are range bound. It's a better idea to concentrate on the S&P Mid Cap, S&P Small Cap, and the Value Line Index. These things are bullish on an absolute and relative basis and better patterns/stocks are showing up in the mid- and small-cap areas."

He also tackles whether the tech sector is oversold and ready to rebound.

"We've been having a lot of meetings lately and a good number of phone conversations and the tone is getting to the point where people are aggressively anticipating the `fall low' - you know, when the indexes put in their annual low and tech bottoms and the fourth quarter is a race to the finish. We're looking for it too, but nothing has really coalesced yet to tell us that the track meet is on."

So what is Roque doing right now? "Same thing we've been going with - investors don't need to focus on tech and telecom to perform, major indexes remain in a trading range, better opportunities in mid and small caps. If there's a change we'll let you know."

11:09 a.m.: Tech Struggling in Early Going in Big Day for Analyst Actions

Yesterday's late setback did not portend well for today's session, and technology stocks have given back pre-opening futures gains in today's triple witching session.

The

Nasdaq was down 55 to 3859 in recent trading.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was down 7 to 813. Triple-witching is the quarterly expiration of stock options, index options and index futures. It typically provides some confusion in the marketplace and does not give a good reading for market direction.

There was a slew of analysts' research out this morning.

Legg Mason

reiterated a buy rating on

Commerce One

(CMRC)

after the company said yesterday that its acquisition of

AppNet

had closed. Analysts indicated that the combined company was "ready to hit the ground running," and that Appnet's outsourcing and EDI expertise "represent hidden gems." They also pointed out that Commerce One was trading at a "significant discount" to

Ariba

(ARBA)

, and near-term catalysts include a users' conference, new mega-exchange wins and strong third-quarter results.

Also in the B2B space,

SG Cowen

initiated coverage of Commerce One with a strong buy rating and $94 price target;

PurchasePro.com

(PPRO)

with a strong buy rating and a $110 price target and

VerticalNet

(VERT)

with a buy rating. They also began coverage of

Redback Networks

(RBAK)

with a strong buy and a $185 price target.

And

ING Barings

initiated coverage of

E.piphany

with a buy rating and $135 price target. E.piphany provides analytical solutions for e-commerce marketing. Analyst George Godfrey noted that his price target was based on the stock achieving a multiple of 25 times fiscal 2001 sales estimate of $242. And, while he admitted that his multiple "seems rich" compared to traditional benchmarks, it was "well within the range of the company's peer group."

Chase Securities

had positive things to say about

InfoSpace

(INSP) - Get Report

after the content provider held an analysts' day yesterday. Analyst Jack Ripsteen wrote that InfoSpace spent the bulk of the day discussing and demonstrating its wireless initiatives and technologies, demonstrating a number of wireless applications ranging from one-click shopping to location based mobile commerce integrated with promotions and directions.

"While we have recently seen a number of these kinds of wireless applications from both public and private companies, we believe InfoSpace, because of its relationships with the wireless carriers, is one of the few companies that can actually monetize these technologies," he wrote. Chase has done underwriting for InfoSpace.

Jefferies

began coverage of

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

with a hold rating and $40 price target and

priceline.com

(PCLN)

with a buy rating and a $50 price target.

In the note on DoubleClick, analyst Michael Legg indicated that near-term concerns were clouding the longer-term outlook.

"Our sentiment stems from lowered guidance for the current 3Q based on near-term Internet advertising spending concerns, stiffer competition for new product launches, a continued overhang from online privacy concerns, and the impact of continued publisher-industry consolidation." DoubleClick was recently down 3%.

With regards to priceline, Legg writes that the company had "distinguished itself from the competition" through its reverse auction style model and its "aggressive and successful marketing," and that the company has sustainable long-term advantages over the competition. He urged investors to "buy aggressively' at current levels. priceline was recently down 2.3%.

Finally,

UBS Warburg

raised its price target on

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

to $250 from $225. Analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos wrote that the company was on track to exceed his September-quarter estimates of $145.8 million in revenues and nine cents earnings per share. It was up 1.5% in recent action.