Essentially oil prices have been making solid strides to the upside since Feb. 16, which was a significant low for the oil market, said Tim Evans, senior energy analyst at

Pegasus Econometric Group

. With crude oil trading around $14 a barrel, crude oil is up 23% from that February level, he said. "It's been a nice strong market."

Evans said the rise from the February level was initially driven by short-covering but then fresh buying interest was attracted.

In the last week or so, part of the support for the advance was in anticipation that OPEC may cut production at its meeting later this month.

Overnight, that reinforcement -- in addition to positive talk over the weekend -- was further bolstered by comments from the Saudi Arabian oil minister who expressed confidence that oil producers would reach agreement on production cuts prior to the March 23 meeting, Evans said. And since those comments hit, there's been more definite talk of a meeting of some OPEC ministers in Amsterdam tomorrow, he said.

The oil ministers aren't talking publicly about what the magnitude of the production cuts are going to be, Evans noted. However, he did say that oil prices already have priced in a production cut of 1.5 million barrels a day. Anything short of that or a breakdown in the talks "is going to be a big disappointment to the market."

To get a "fresh bullish impetus," the oil market needs to see production cuts in excess of 1.5 million a day, Evans said.

"We're very much in OPEC's lap here," said Evans. The production issue is the crucial short-term issue for the crude oil market, and by implication for all the oil stocks which have been playing catch up to some extent, because oil futures have been making solid gains, he said.

A close over $14 a barrel Evans said would sustain the bullish sentiment, but a close under that level might make longs a little queasy.

The oil and oil service sectors are soaring, while Internet stocks were posting respectable gains, albeit not as beefy as those in the oil patch.

Meanwhile, the market's major indices are all higher, led by the blue-chip

Dow Jones Industrial Average

.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

is up 9%, while the

Chicago Board Options Exchange Oil Index

has surged 4%. More on the oil and oil service sectors follows below.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

was up 16 to 585.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 4 to 108.

The Dow was up 68 to 9761. The biggest boost to the Dow has come via

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

, which was up 3 9/16 to 57 1/8. DuPont today said its board has authorized the creation of a "tracking" stock for its life sciences businesses. DuPont said it is "actively seeking alliances with other strong partners in the pharmaceuticals industry."

The

S&P 500

was up 5 to 1284. The tech-heavy

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 6 to 2399. The

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 400.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 12/32 to 95 16/32, yielding 5.56%.

Utility stocks were climbing. The

Dow Jones Utility Average

was up 2%.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,570 to 1,263 on 515 million shares. On the Nasdaq, winners were beating losers 1,882 to 1,786 on 592 million shares.

On the NYSE, 55 issues had set new 52-week lows while 51 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 69 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 46.

On the Big Board,

Compaq

(CPQ)

was most active, with 19 million shares changing hands. It was down 1 3/8 to 31 3/8.

On the Nasdaq,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was most active, with 21 million shares changing hands. It was down 3/8 to 43 11/16.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

and Dell announced a strategic agreement to offer linked Web sites and provide customized content for Amazon.com and Dell customers.

Sector Focus: Oil and Oil Service

Oil and oil service stocks rose thanks to a surge in oil prices which jumped compliments to hopes that

OPEC

will cut output when it meets later this month.

Oil stocks were a big boost to the Dow.

Chevron

(CHV)

was up 3 7/16 to 83 3/8, and

Exxon

(XON) - Get Report

was up 2 15/16 to 72 7/8.

Mobil

(MOB)

, which plans to merge with Exxon, was up 3 9/16 to 91 9/16. It hit a 52-week intraday higher earlier today when it peaked at 91 3/4.

Among oil service issues,

Schlumberger

(SLB) - Get Report

was up 2 15/16, or 5%, to 58 1/4, while

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

was up 3 9/16, or 11%, to 35 13/16.

12:59 p.m.: Midday Musings: Internet Stocks Keep Cruising as Other Indices Catch Up

11:57 a.m.: Stocks Turn Narrowly Mixed at Midday

Cyberspace issues were posting solid gains and oil service stocks took wing, while the market's major averages were narrowly mixed as the lunch hour approached on Wall Street.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 12 to 581.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 2 to 106. More on the Net gains below.

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index was up 8%.

Meanwhile, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 4 to 9698. The

S&P 500

was down 2 to 1278.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was down 4 to 2389. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 400.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 10/32 to 95 18/32, yielding 5.56%.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,432 to 1,224 on 328x million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, winners were beating losers 1,730 to 1,598 on 392 million shares.

On the NYSE, 45 issues had set new 52-week lows while 43 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 51 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 30.

On the Big Board,

Compaq

(CPQ)

was most active, with 15 million shares changing hands. It was down 1 5/8 to 31 1/8.

On the Nasdaq,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was most active, with 17 million shares changing hands. It was down 5/8 to 43 7/16. Today

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

and Dell announced a strategic agreement to offer linked Web sites and provide customized content for Amazon.com and Dell customers.

Tech Focus

The major tech gauges were mostly lower. The

Nasdaq 100

was down fractionally, while the

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35

was down 1%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was down 2%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

, meanwhile, was up 1%.

Helping give the Net stocks a boost were positive comments from Henry Blodget, Internet analyst at

Merrill Lynch

, who until

recently worked at

CIBC Oppenheimer

. He issued his first ratings on some Net stocks for Merrill, rating

America Online

(AOL)

both near-term and long-term buy;

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

near-term accumulate and long-term buy; and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

near-term accumulate and long-term buy.

"We recommend that aggressive investors allocate a small percentage of capital to a basket of high-quality Internet stocks, such as America Online, Yahoo, and Amazon.com," Blodget said in an overview report on the industry.

"We regard the Internet as a global mega-trend, along the lines of the printing press, the telephone, and the computer, that is changing the way companies and people communicate, research, buy, sell, and distribute goods and services and spend leisure time."

Meanwhile, the saga surrounding

Lycos

(LCOS)

continued today. Lycos was a big winner today, up 12 3/4, or 13%, to 109. Lycos' largest shareholder,

CMGI

(CMGI)

, has hired

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to seek other suitors for Lycos in an effort to thwart the company's planned merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. The newspaper reported that CMGI's chairman and chief executive, David S. Wetherell, said one of the options being considered is CMGI's outright purchase of Lycos. CMGI rose 2 to 196 1/2.

11:02 a.m.: Stocks Climb Slightly into Positive Territory

The Internet sector was one of the few standout areas of the market as the major barometers were up only slightly at midmorning.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 17 to 586.

Lycos

(LCOS)

was the biggest gainer in the index, up 14 7/16, or 15%, to 110 9/16. Lycos' largest shareholder,

CMGI

(CMGI)

, has hired

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to seek other suitors for Lycos in an effort to thwart the company's planned merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. The newspaper reported that CMGI's chairman and chief executive, David S. Wetherell, said one of the options being considered is CMGI's outright purchase of Lycos.

CMGI rose a more modest 5 1/2 to 199 7/8.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 3 to 107.

Elsewhere, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 12 to 9706. The

S&P 500

was up 1 to 1280. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 7 to 2400. The small-cap

Russell 2000

up 1 to 400.

Meanwhile, the Treasury market wasn't giving the stock market a hand. The 30-year Treasury bond was down 5/32 to 95 23/32, yielding 5.55%, off its lows.

Scott Curtis, senior equity trader at

Brown Brothers Harriman

, in an interview when the long bond was around its lows, pointed out that the bond market was selling off somewhat ahead of tomorrow's

retail sales

report and on supply pressure from the corporate bond market.

In the news,

Banque Nationale de Paris

has made a $37 billion bid to buy

Societe Generale

and

Paribas

. Only last month, Societe Generale and Paribas agreed to get together. The news has failed to do much for bank stocks here.

Meanwhile,

DuPont's

(DD) - Get Report

board has authorized the creation of a "tracking" stock for its life sciences businesses. DuPont -- which has been reportedly in merger talks with

Monsanto

(MTC) - Get Report

-- said it is "actively seeking alliances with other strong partners in the pharmaceuticals industry."

In a news release, Charles O. Holliday Jr., DuPont chairman and chief executive, said: "Given the success of our discussions to date, we expect to be able to conclude one or more of these alliances by the end of this year."

DuPont was up 2 1/16 to 5 5/8.

Semiconductor stocks were higher, after falling sharply yesterday. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

tumbled a little more than 4% yesterday. Today the index is up 2%.

In general, tech stocks are trying to shrug off the

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

preannouncement rumors, said Curtis.

Those rumors were a general drag on tech stocks yesterday. Intel was up 1 7/8 to 117 3/16.

Oil service stocks were flying again, with the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

jumping 6%.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,382 to 1,127 on 221 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, winners were beating losers 1,609 to 1,418 on 280 million shares.

On the NYSE, 34 issues had set new 52-week highs while 32 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 45 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 24.

On the Big Board,

Compaq

(CPQ)

was most active, with 10 million shares changing hands. It was down 1 to 31 3/4.

On the Nasdaq,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was most active, with 13 million shares changing hands. It was up 1/8 to 44 1/4.

10:05 a.m.: Stocks Mostly Lower at Open

Stocks mostly lower early on, with the Internet sector a bright spot.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

was up 5 to 574.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 2 to 106.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was down 10 to 2383.

Elsewhere, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 9 to 9685. The

S&P 500

was down 4 to 1276. The

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 400.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 9/32, to 95 19/32, yielding 5.55%.

Most Up at Open -- NYSE

America Online (AOL) , up 2 1/2 to 92 1/2

: Henry Blodget, Internet analyst at Merrill Lynch, who until

recently worked at

CIBC Oppenheimer

, has rated

America Online

(AOL)

both near-term and long-term buy.

Most Up at Open -- Nasdaq

Lycos (LCOS) , up 13 1/4 to 109 1/2

: Lycos' largest shareholder,

CMGI

(CMGI)

, has hired

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to seek other suitors for Lycos in an effort to thwart the company's planned merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. The

Journal

reported that CMGI's chairman and chief executive, David S. Wetherell, said one of the options being considered is CMGI's outright purchase of Lycos.

Most Down at Open -- NYSE

Sap (SAP) - Get Report, down 1 7/16 to 25 15/16

: The German software company fell on concerns over slowing growth.

Most Down at Open -- Nasdaq

WPP Group (WPPGY) , down 2 3/4 to 86

.