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MARKET PREVIEW: Final Fed countdown retrains techs

Techs will squirm through their final hours of restraint Tuesday, waiting for the Fed to release its decision on interest rates in the afternoon. Asia and Europe were mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

U.S.

The Federal Market Open Committee's decision on short-term interest rates will keep the markets guessing until mid-afternoon. The Fed left rates unchanged at its Oct. 5 meeting, but warned they were considering lifting the rate again in the near future if inflation loomed. Today concludes a long month of speculation.

Contradictory signs from economic data have made inflation difficult to gauge over the past month. While wage increases and consumer prices have been tame, the labor market has tightened and commodity and import prices are on the rise. Despite the uncertainty, the overcautious markets may have a rate-hike already built in.

In earnings news, Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) could be on the move Tuesday after its results came in on target with analysts expectations after Monday's bell.

Quintus (Nasdaq: QNTS) is sure to leap in its debut. The communications software developer priced shares at $18 each for its IPO, above range, even after it raised the pricing range from $12-$14 per share to $15-$17 per share last Friday.

Expect these stocks to be among Tuesday's most actively traded issues: America Online, Ariba, Audiohighway.com, Lycos and MMC Networks.

Internet stocks faired well in sluggish trading Monday ahead of tomorrow's Fed meeting but the Dow Jones industrial average still trimmed 9 points to 10,760.75. The Nasdaq composite shed 2 points to close at 3,219.42.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 18 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 2.3 points to 1405 at 7:45 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 2 to 416.23.

Asia

Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 sank 0.24 percent to 18,155, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 0.58 percent to 2,239 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.87 percent to 14,689.

Europe

European markets were also mixed. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.16 percent to 6,544. The CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.33 percent to 5,161 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.05 percent to 5,856 at 7:04 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.