And for an encore, may we present a triple-witching Friday.

It seemed to be a fitting day to end the week, with options expiration occurring. While the concept is relatively simple -- triple witching marks the quarterly expiration of stock options, index options and index futures -- it also can produce a volatile trade, with few indications about which way things will go. And in lieu of the wild events that have taken place this week, it would not be a surprise if investors were shell-shocked and uncertain about market direction.

In early trading, Internet Sector

index was up 44.04, or 3.6%, at 1273.00, though it had traded as high as 1267.93. New Tech 30 was up 13.07, or 1.7%, at 801.66. This morning's

Consumer Price Index

report proved nonthreatening, though the market must still contend with next week's

Federal Reserve Open Market Committee

meeting, where the


is widely expected to raise interest rates.

Among stocks in the news,

America Online


was up 13/16, or 1.3%, at 62 13/16 following news that it would become the sole owner of

AOL Europe

buying out the 50% share


of Germany owned.

Using put and call mechanisms, AOL would ultimately buy out Bertelsmann's share of the interests at a cost between $6.75 billion to $8.25 billion, if the options are exercised. Payment in either cash or stock at AOL's discretion would be made after Jan. 31, 2002.


analysts wrote that AOL management indicated that AOL purchased the assets at a 30% to 60% discount and the deal would result in a per share adjustment to their balance sheet assets estimates of $19 billion or $3.90 per share.

Banc of America Securities

took a mixed view on the deal, with analyst Stewart Halpern writing that "although we imagine there are better ways for AOL to use the capital to be committed to the buy-out, wholly owning the entities should offer benefits to AOL -- especially AOL Europe, which we expect will be publicly listed in Europe down the road."

And in a note on the agreement,

Salomon Smith Barney

analyst Lanny Baker wrote that the deal may actually have an impact on


TheStreet Recommends


. Baker indicated that Bertelsmann's exit from AOL Europe "may heighten the possibility that Bertelsmann will deepen its ties" to Lycos. Bertelsmann and Lycos are currently equal partners in

Lycos Europe

, and Baker speculates that Bertelsmann retains a strong interest in expanding its online presence. Salomon is advising AOL in its pending merger with

Time Warner


. Lycos was up 2 13/16, or 4%, at 72 7/8.

Among the day's other big movers,



was attempting to rebound after getting pummeled this week. It was up 8 7/8, or 5%, at 189 3/4. The stock has gone from a high of 324 7/8 on March 10 to a low of 170 3/16 yesterday, close to a 50% drop. E.piphany was beaten up both before and after its

announced purchase of

Octane Software

earlier this week.

Also on the upside,



, one of the hottest stocks in the sector of late, was up 8 3/16, or 4%, at 209 1/4.


(INSP) - Get Report

, which gained close to 30 points yesterday, was down recently 5 15/16, or 2.6%, at 219 1/4.

James Cramer

provides his opinions on Gene Marcial's picks in this week's

Business Week

in an earlier

piece, suggesting traders holding

Cornerstone Internet Solutions


bail after it pops. But the pop has been relatively tame. After trading as high as 6 3/4, Cornerstone was up 5/16, or 5%, at 6 7/16.