The sounding of Friday's closing bell signaled the start of the long holiday weekend, and traders wasted no time heading to the Hamptons as soon as it rang. As a result, the after-hours trading session -- usually slow on a Friday night -- was particularly quiet.

As thoughts drifted toward barbecues and away from semiconductors and oil stocks, a handful of traders stuck around to push

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

to the top of

Instinet's

volume trading list. Earlier in the day, speculation arose that a decision in Microsoft's legal appeal may be handed down today, lending some action to the

options market. By early evening, a few traders perhaps were still hoping for some news, keeping Microsoft more active than any other stock, but barely budging it off of the day's close. The stock traded down 30 cents, just a slight 0.4% on Instinet, to $70.61.

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Island ECN

after-hours trading saw a handful of inexpensive stocks trading near the top of tonight's volume players. Stocks with smaller share prices are often more volatile in terms of price swings, and these stocks were no exception. DSL provider

Rhythms NetConnections

(RTHM)

said earlier this morning that it would defer payment of $5.1 million in quarterly dividends on preferred stock. The company said that while it does have the money to pay the dividends, current debt indentures prevent it from paying "cash" dividends. The stock fell 12 cents, or 32.4%, to 25 cents per share on Island.

Bringing a feeling of 1999 back to the after-hours market, a short list of 'Net penny stocks rounded out the rest of the top five most active on Island. They were

Return Assured

(RTRN)

,

Blue Zone

(BLZN)

,

Applied Digital Solutions

(ADSX)

, and

Webvan

(WBVN)

. Return Assured developed a proprietary B2B and B2C Web Seal of Approval guaranteeing the performance of an e-tailer. The stock fell 6 cents, or 17.6%, to 28 cents in the after-hours. Blue Zone, a graphical interface software developer, fell 13 cents, or 43.3%, to a new share price of 17 cents. E-business service provider Applied Digital gained 4 cents, or 4.4%, in the evening session, to 96 cents. Webvan, the long-troubled online grocer, remained unchanged at 20 cents a share.

A handful of foreign companies made it near the top of the top volume traders on Instinet tonight, though all remained unchanged in price throughout the evening session. Brazilian cellular provider

Telesp Celular Participaciones

(TCP) - Get Report

, Madrid, Spain- based telecom

Telefonica SA

(TEF) - Get Report

, and

Companhia Paranaense de Energia

(ELP) - Get Report

, a company that builds and operates electricity generating plants in Brazil, all traded in light volume.

Both

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

traded very lightly tonight. Cisco was unchanged while giant chipmaker Intel rose 7 cents, or 0.2%, to $29.17.

The phones weren't ringing, the trading floors were empty, and the smell of burgers was already in the air

Island ECN offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Confused?

TheStreet.com

explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.