If Internet stocks came back (again) in full Internet (irrational) glory, would the major indices hear? If

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

hits a post-split 400, does that translate to

Dow 10,000?

Who knows, but it's worth thinking about for a range-locked market whose consistently bright spot today has been the said dot-com sector.

While the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was giving market watchers cramped necks -- up, down, up, down -- the youthful

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index and

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

were planted in positive territory, folded arms, smug smiles and all.

"Folks have been trying to get a read on the euphoria, and have generally figured that the pure Internet speculation, the retail interest, has usually meant a market top," said Bob Basel, director of listed trading at

Salomon Smith Barney

. "But this theory, that the bubbling speculation means a top, has never signaled one before, so why should it now."

Part of today's Internet enthusiasm is due to Henry Blodget, the Internet analyst at

Merrill Lynch

who until

recently worked at

CIBC Oppenheimer

.

America Online

(AOL)

lately was up 2.6% after receiving a near- and long-term buy rating from the influential analyst. Also, Blodget rated both

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

, up 4.1%, and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, up 3.3%, near-term accumulate and long-term buy.

Another batch of warm excitement comes from a

Wall Street Journal

report that said

CMGI

(CMGI)

,

Lycos'

(LCOS)

largest shareholder, hired

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to search for suitors for Lycos in an effort to break up its planned,

unpopular merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

. Lycos recently was up 13.1%.

Meanwhile, the Dow, struggling to keep itself green all morning, seemed to have found its grip. The blue-chip index, which fell as low as 9675.71, lately was up 55 to 9749. Oil names continued to glow, and

Chevron

(CHV)

and

Exxon

(XON) - Get Report

, along with

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

, were the Dow's strongest components. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was bounding 9.2% and the

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was climbing 4%.

The broader

S&P 500

was up 3 to 1283, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 401.

The tech-soaked

Nasdaq Composite Index

, off its session low of 2378.81, was up 7 to 2400. Debuting today was the

Nasdaq 100

tracking stock, listed under the symbol QQQ on the

American Stock Exchange

and designed to closely track the price and yield performance of the index. The tracking stock recently was down 11/16, or 0.7%, to 101 9/16, while the Nasdaq 100 itself was about unchanged. The

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35

was off 0.3%, while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 1.2%.

An indication that more bank consolidation may be in store -- after

Banque Nationale de Paris

made hostile bids for both

Societe Generale

and

Paribas

in an effort to break up the companies' planned merger -- was helping the sector. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was up 1%.

Market internals were lukewarm. On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,537 to 1,227 on 441 million shares. The ups were outpacing the downs 1,871 to 1,681 on 511 million shares in

Nasdaq Stock Market

activity.

The 30-year Treasury was down 14/32 to 95 14/32, sending its yield up to 5.56%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early

Bond Focus.)

Basel, who believes the bond market has made a temporary bottom but still weighs heavily on investors' mind, said: "We're seeing mixed action but that's after that big

stock run-up late last week. I think people are surprised at the resiliency of the market this week. We've haven't seen any small correction, so I think that means we're headed for

Dow 10,000. And that's without any special good news. As long as we don't have a large bad news, I think things are

mezza-mezza

for now, and then 10,000."

Jack Ablin, managing director at

Colonial Asset Management

in Jacksonville, Fla., isn't so sure. Blaming lingering inflation worries, he said he sees the short-term market performance as "pretty neutral to negative."

"There's still a debate," he said. "We're stuck in the balance of uncertainty now. First, investors were scared

short-term interest rates were going higher, then the jobs number seem to say they weren't, and yesterday we had

Fed

Chairman

Alan

Greenspan's

comments. People are also nervous about first-quarter profits. So we may test 10,000 and be there for a couple days."

The strategist said he expects an announcement, either way, from

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

after today's closing bell. The chip maker, lately up 2.3%, is rumored to be preparing a first-quarter warning. Intel accounts for 3% of Ablin's 50-stock portfolio.

As for the Internet sector, Ablin said he's "amused that everybody seems to be paying attention to Blodget now that he's at Merrill. Same guy, different hat. Although he did get that Amazon 400 call -- guess that's what got him his job."

Ablin said he's long AOL and "optimistic about the Internet," but that he doesn't believe an Internet rally will signal a broader market move upward. "I think we have to take a step backward," he said. "It's unrelated to the rest of the market. I mean, the media loves to talk about it, but there aren't a heck of a lot of institutions buying and selling in there. It's still a relatively small segment of the market."

Wednesday's Midday Movers

By Aaron L. Task
Senior Writer

Oil and oil-services stocks are rising again in response to speculation that

OPEC

will cut production. A Saudi oil minister said cuts could be announced before the organization's March 23 meeting. Among the biggest beneficiaries this morning are

Atwood Oceanics

(ATW)

, lately up 3 1/16, or 14.4%, to 24 5/16;

B.J. Services

(BJS)

, higher by 1 5/8, or 10%, to 17 13/16; and

Transocean Offshore

(RIG) - Get Report

, up 2 /16, or 9.2%, to 24 7/16.

As mentioned above, Amazon.com was up 5 5/16, or 4.1%, to 135 1/4 after Merrill Lynch's new Internet analyst, Henry Blodget, initiated coverage with a near-term accumulate and long-term buy ratings. Blodget also initiated coverage on America Online, lately up 2 5/16, or 2.6%, to 92 1/2, with near- and long-term buy ratings. Yahoo!, lately up 5 3/4, or 3.3%, to 172 3/4, was initiated with near-term accumulate and long-term buy recommendations. Blodget participated in

TheStreet.com's

Feb. 19

Net Stock Summit.

Elsewhere in Netland, Lycos was lately up 12 5/8, or 13.1%, to 108 15/16 as it continues to bask in

yesterday's announcement that CMGI's CEO David Wetherell has resigned from Lycos' board and will fight the proposed merger with USA Networks. CMGI, lately up 4 1/4, or 2.2%, to 198 7/8 may even consider bidding to acquire Lycos,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

reiterated its buy rating on Lycos, reporting the "most likely outcome" being the close of a Lycos-USA deal "under present or renegotiated terms."

Meanwhile,

PSINet

(PSIX)

was up 3 7/16, or 9.8%, to 38 11/16 after

ING Baring Furman Selz

upped its recommendation on the Internet service provider to buy from hold.

Earnings movers

PSS World Medical

(PSSI)

was down 2 31/32, or 24.7%, to 9 1/32 after forecasting its fourth-quarter earnings will not meet the eight-analyst estimate of 24 cents a share. The medical supply concern said its fourth-quarter results will likely top 21 cents.

Republic Group

(RGC)

was down 1 3/4, or 11.7%, to 13 3/16 after warning its third-quarter profits will be 35% to 40% below second-quarter results of 32 cents. The three-analyst consensus is currently for earnings of 49 cents.

Unitrode

(UTR)

was down 2 1/8, or 14.8%, to 12 1/14 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, 1 cent higher than the three-analyst view but behind the year-ago 25 cents.

In other news:

Anchor Gaming

(SLOT)

was up 3 3/8, or 9.8%, to 38 3/16 after agreeing to buy

Powerhouse Technologies

(PWRH)

for $19.50 a share. Powerhouse closed Tuesday at 14 13/16 and lately was up 3 1/16, or 20.8%, to 17 13/16. The deal values Powerhouse at about $280 million, including $60 million in debt assumption.

Burnham Pacific Properties

(BPP)

was up 7/8, or 8.6%, to 11 1/16 after teaming with the

California Public Employees Retirement System

to buy 28 shopping centers from

AMB Property

(AMB)

. AMB was lately up 5/16, or 1.5%, to 2 7/16.

Century Telephone Enterprises

(CTL) - Get Report

was up 4 3/16, or 6.6%, to 67 5/8 on last night's announcement it will replace

Rubbermaid

(RBD)

in the S&P 500 on a yet-to-be-determined date. Rubbermaid is merging with S&P 500 component

Newell

(NWL) - Get Report

.

CD Radio

(CDRD)

was up 1 3/4, or 8.1%, to 23 3/8 after ING Baring Furman Selz initiated coverage at strong buy.

Computer Associates

(CA) - Get Report

was down 5 13/16, or 14.5%, to 34 1/4 after

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

cut its recommendation to neutral from outperform.

DuPont was up 3, or 5.6%, to 56 9/16 after announcing it will seek alliances within the pharmaceutical to unleash the "hidden value" of its life sciences division.

Deutsche Bank Securities

upped its rating on DuPont to accumulate from hold.

Fluor

(FLR) - Get Report

was down 2 5/8, or 7.7%, to 31 11/16 after

Goldman Sachs

cut its recommendation to market performer from market outperformer. Yesterday, Fluor said it will cut 5,000 jobs as part of a reorganization effort aimed at boosting profits.

Healtheon

(HLTH)

was up 5 1/4, or 17.5%, to 35 1/2 after Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter separately initiated coverage with market outperformer and outperform ratings, respectively.

Household International

(HI) - Get Report

was up 3 1/4, or 7.8%, to 45 1/16 after announcing it will repurchase up to $2 billion of its stock over the next two years.

Oshap Technologies

(OSHSF)

was lately up 2 5/8, or 25%, to 13 3/16 on word it will be acquired by

Sun Data Systems

(SDS) - Get Report

in a stock swap valued at $210 million. Sun Data was lately off 15/16, or 2.4%, to 39.