DOT Finishes Day Just South of Break-Even

Weakness in the broader market contributed to losses today in Internet issues.
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The good news from one technical analyst about Internet stocks: They have the best-looking charts of all the issues in the technology sector. The bad news: The rest of the tech sector looks pretty bad and could eventually take the Net sector down with it.

Weakness in the broader market certainly has influenced Net stocks over the past few weeks, and it contributed to losses again today. Internet Sector

index, or DOT, closed down 0.26 to 647.12 today. For the week, the DOT was up 29.51, or 4.8%.

Weak overseas markets, a downgrade of


(DELL) - Get Report

, some cautionary words from



and strong economic data that hurt Treasuries conspired to punish the market. The start of the fourth quarter and the

dreaded month of October, along with some hesitation ahead of next Tuesday's

Federal Reserve

meeting, also contributed to the roughness.

Dick Dickson, a technical analyst with

Scott & Stringfellow

, said the


has held up better than the broader market, but he eventually expects technology stocks to play catch-up with the


and the

S&P 500

. He said price action in the Dow today was typical of what has been occurring of late -- no follow-through and "the path of least resistance is clearly down." Dickson said October is typically the month when there is a "waterfall selloff," and there has been nothing to indicate that won't happen again this year.

Though Net stocks are a bright spot in an otherwise ugly picture, Dickson said the Net sector cannot hold up by itself if the rest of the technology issues are under pressure. Because the tech sector has been outperforming, once it does capitulate, it could be the catalyst for a market washout that has been seen in many of the recent Octobers, he said. "But if I'm wrong about the market and tech stocks, then the Internet sector will have further to run because

Net stocks have the best charts," he said.

There are a couple of key levels in the DOT that bear watching, according to Dickson. The first is 600, a level the index keyed on as it was rallying from its August lows and one that now represents support. The index slipped below 600 last Friday, trading as low as 598.61, but quickly righted itself and closed at 617.61. Dickson's other level is 572, its 200-day moving average. Dickson said he would be concerned if the index dropped below 600, but below 572 would indicate a reversal and would suggest deeper losses.

Among individual stocks today, there were few announcements for Net enthusiasts to digest.


(ATHM) - Get Report

closed up 3 1/8, or 8%, at 44 9/16 after


(T) - Get Report

said it was considering strategic options relating to its 58% interest in Excite@Home. AT&T said it had not forged any definitive deals, but alliances between Excite@Home and

America Online







(MSFT) - Get Report

have been speculated.

Yahoo! closed down 4 1/16, or 2%, at 175 7/16; AOL closed up 3 3/4, or 4%, at 107 13/16; Microsoft finished down 19/32, or 1%, at 89 31/32; and AT&T finished down 1 7/8, or 4%, at 41 5/8.