NEW YORK (CNNfn) - It seems the quietest whisper about those blustery Internet stocks is enough to cause a market tornado on Wall Street, and put the sector atop the Friday list of market movers - again.
The latest Internet stock to grab the spotlight was web-based broadcaster Broadcast.com (BCST), which soared 74 percent earlier in the day to 228-1/2 a share. The sudden surge prompted Nasdaq officials to halt the stock and ask the company to explain what news, if any, may have fueled the rise.
In response, Broadcast.com responded that, as a matter of policy, it does not comment on the movement of its stock. When trading resumed a short time later, the stock drifted back to 194, up 62 points or 47 percent on the day.
The gains come in the wake of what analysts called a strong presentation earlier this week at an Internet conference sponsored by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
Raymond James analyst Phil Leigh said the company didn't unveil anything new, but the high-profile audience is realizing the Internet is entering a new stage and becoming the future form of electronic media.
A torrent of cash into cyberspace...
The Net sector overall continues to amaze, despite a growing chorus of market analysts, such as the Prudential Securities chief technical analyst Ralph Acampora, that insists investors must beware the high-flying stocks.
The provider of online information for Christian use, Didax (AMEN), shot up 4-11/16 to 13-13-16, or 51 percent, after a report in BusinessWeek said its shares may rise again after forming a web site called crosswalk.com. Its shares hit 40 in late November.
The article, citing an unidentified San Francisco-based money manager, said Didax is in talks about alliances with America Online (AOL) and Amazon.com.
Several Didax executives did not return calls seeking comment about the stock price moves Friday.
For its part, Amazon.com (AMZN) shot up 27-9/16 to 186-7/16 after the bookseller said late Thursday it will open its third and largest distribution facility in Nevada, to speed deliveries to Western states and keep up with rapidly rising sales.
And the community web site provider GeoCities (GCTY) powered up 23-1/8, or more than 56 percent, to 64 after announcing it has launched its next generation of "geo-shops."
Financial news provider Data Broadcasting (DBCC) rose 7-1/16 to 26-15/16, more than 35 percent, on high hopes about an upcoming offering of Marketwatch.com, a joint venture with TV network CBS (CBS).
It was a solid day for CBS, which added 1-3/8 to 34-15/16, as another one of its online ventures, SportsLine USA (SPLN), rallied 8-3/8 to 28, or 43 percent, after saying it will post fourth quarter revenues 90 percent above year-ago figures.
Among Internet portals, Yahoo! (YHOO) shot up 23-7/8 to 343-7/8, ahead of next Tuesday's earnings release. Analysts expect the company to report 16 cents a share.
Leading percentage gainer in the sector this week, Lycos (LCOS), added 19-5/8 to 91-1/8, as Excite (XCIT) rose 7-3/16 to 62-1/2 and Infoseek (SEEK) tacked on 3-11/16 to 56-9/16.
... And back in the real world
Despite all appearances, there were other Wall St. issues undergoing noteworthy swings besides those in the Internet sector.
On the downside, Hibbett Sporting Goods (HIBB) plunged 8-9/16 to 18-15/16, after announcing late Thursday its fourth quarter revenue would miss consensus targets due in part to the effects of the recent National Basketball Association lockout.
CompuWare (CPWR) gained 2 to 71-1/2 after the software maker announced a 2-for-1 stock split after the closing bell Thursday.
Taking a beating were the American depositary receipts of ASM Lithography (ASMLF), down 3-7/16 to 41-1/2 after Deutsche Bank downgraded the Dutch chip-equipment maker to "underweight" from "neutral."
First Data (FDC) clambered up 2-15/16 to 34-7/8, after Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the provider of credit-card processing services to "strong buy" from neutral.