News from AOL Time Warner and Amazon.com should keep investors attention on Wednesday, ahead of the Fed's decision on interest rates. Asian markets moved up while those in Europe were mixed. Early indicators have the Dow set to open lower.
U.S. investors continue to wait for an expected rate cut from Federal Reserve. Many economists and market observers are predicting that the central bank will cut interest rates by half a percentage point. Greenspan and company will wrap up the their meetings this afternoon, with a decision expected at around 2:15 p.m. EST.
Media giant AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL) reported fourth-quarter cash earnings of 28 cents a share on combined sales of $10.2 billion. First Call did not issue earnings forecasts for the period for the newly-formed company.
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) will be on the move after trimming its sales projections for 2001 and announcing that it will cut 15 percent of its work force, roughly 1,300 jobs. Reporting late yesterday, the online retailer beat analysts’ estimates in its fourth quarter and predicted a profit by year end.
Also after yesterday's close, chip-equipment maker Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) warned that it will miss analysts’ sales estimates in its first quarter due to a slowdown in capital spending among its semiconductor customers.
The government will release figures for fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) before the opening bell. According to survey of economists by Briefing.com, GDP growth is forecast to come in at 2.3 percent.
Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE), Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT), PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT), RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK).
The Nasdaq managed to stay in positive territory on Tuesday, closing up 0.01 to 2,838.35, while the Dow Jones industrial average rose 179.01 to 10,881.20.
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to open down 9 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 futures index slipped 1.20 to 1380.80 at 7:30 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.
The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index lost 4 to 323.26.
The major Asian markets gained ground. The Nikkei 225 rose 16.90 to 13,843.55, Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 209.28 to 16,102.35, and Singapore's Straights Times moved up 29.77 to 1,991.29.
European markets were mixed. On the positive side, the CAC 40 in Paris traded up 15.49 to 5,932.64 and the DAX in Frankfurt inched up 2.99 to 6,742.29. London's FTSE 100 was down 38.8 to 6,295.70 at 7:08 a.m. EST.
Reuters contributed to this report.