Somewhere, Alfred E. Neuman is smiling.

With the

Nasdaq Composite Index

and

S&P 500

flirting with record closing highs, it's even clearer the Comp's recent 9% decline was akin to a glutton's easing back after devouring a bucket of oysters, before moving on to a 64-ounce steak.

Like yesterday, all major indices are up strongly, with breadth about as strong as yesterday. The one difference? Today, the Comp took lead first and other indices followed. Lately, the Comp was up 90, or 1.8%, to 5031, while the S&P was up 13, or 0.9%, to 1541. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 33 to 11,153, off its intraday high of 11,234.65.

The Nasdaq is led by just about every major sector. Net stocks are soaring, bolstered by positive analyst comments, as well as reports that

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

have resumed merger discussions, according to London's

Financial Times

. eBay leapt 22 11/16, or 10.2%, to 246 1/4, while Yahoo! gained 5, or 2.6%, to 196.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was lately up 39, or 3.1%, to 1292.

TheStreet.com E-Finance Index

gained 7.3% after positive comments on a couple of that index's components, including

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

, which rose 2 1/16, or 9.4%, to 24.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

rose 6, or 8.9%, to 73 11/16 after positive comments from

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's

Mary Meeker. The analyst announced the formation of Morgan Stanley's forthcoming Internet index, which will begin trading options in a couple of weeks.

Computer makers were strong, as the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

gained 1.3%. Dow component

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

was one of the leaders, gaining 4 9/16, or 4%, to 119 13/16.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 2%, while the

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35 Index

gained 1.8%. The

Russell 2000

was lately up 6, or 1.1%, to 580.

The

Nasdaq Stock Market's

most actively traded was

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, which will also be a component in Morgan Stanley's Net index. The stock, lately

threatening

Microsoft's

TheStreet Recommends

(MSFT) - Get Report

market-cap crown, rose 2 7/16 to 80 1/4 on 43 million shares.

With investor confidence in the coming earnings season high, individual Dow components can suffer without causing widespread panic.

Johnson & Johnson's

(JNJ) - Get Report

staggering today, after the company announced a recall of a heartburn medication due to nasty side effects. J&J was off 7 3/4, or 9.7%, to 72 1/4, but it hasn't had a broader effect on the Dow (aside from taking 38 points out of the day's move).

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

, meanwhile, gained 4 15/16 to 91 15/16, accounting for 24 1/2 points of the Dow's gain.

"It's all based on earnings euphoria," said Peter Cardillo, chief strategist at

Westfalia Investments

. "Corporate America is doing good and we have not yet gotten many disappointments."

That's also given the market resolve to control its fear of the

Federal Reserve

, despite the committee's tough-talking statement Tuesday after raising the short-term fed funds rate to 6%. In its

statement, the Fed said "economic conditions and considerations addressed by the Committee are essentially the same as when the Committee met in February", a signal that more increases could be in the offing. That's something the market accepts, however, and the sentiment among participants is that the Fed will succeed in slowing the economy enough to avoid an outbreak of inflation.

"What happened a week ago Wednesday when money started to go after the Old Economy stocks was a realization that

Fed Chairman

Alan

Greenspan

is not mean-spirited, and is not going to precipitate a recession under his watch," said Al Goldman, chief market strategist at

A.G. Edwards

.

The brokerage stocks were surging. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

gained 5%.

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

has risen 3 15/16 to 113 7/8;

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

rose 3/4 to 95 1/2.

To be sure, strategists also attribute some of today's gains to quarter-end window-dressing, in which professional investors tend to buy outperforming stocks to boost their quarterly performance.

The

New York Stock Exchange's

most active was

Compaq

(CPQ)

, which was down again, losing 1 3/8 to 28 1/2 on 26.2 million shares.

The

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was lately down 0.7%, as was the

Dow Jones Utility Average

.

The 10-year Treasury note was down 20/32 to 102 13/32, boosting the yield to 6.17%.

Market Internals

Breadth was positive on hefty volume.

New York Stock Exchange

: 1,492 advancers, 1,330 decliners, 634 million shares. 98 new highs, 27 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market

: 2,082 advancers, 1,953 decliners, 1 billion shares. 117 new highs, 40 new lows.

For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Movers, published separately.