THE DAY AHEAD: Market Preview

Techs should bounce back after yesterday's mild sell-off. Watch Alloy's IPO today to gauge the market's sentiment on content providers. Asia and Europe were mixed. The Dow is set to fall more than 130 points at the bell after the CPI came in stronger than expected.

U.S.

Alloy Online Inc. (Nasdaq: ALOY), a destination site for "Generation Y" - kids from 10 through 24, begins trading today. It's sort of a cross between iVillage Inc. (Nasdaq: IVIL) in targeting a specific group of people and a touch like iTurf Inc. (Nasdaq: TURF), the Delia's Inc. (Nasdaq: DLIA) online unit.

Online content is fine, but the real money on the Net isn't in advertising, it's in e-commerce. When considering Alloy or any of the "communities," look carefully how they are positioned to sell goods and services to their members.

"Everyone says that (online) content is dead - but they keep popping up. There's been iTurf, theStreet.com and Salon.com, for example. Content is fine if you can transition to an e-commerce model," said Tom Taulli, author of "Investing in IPOs."

Stocks to watch for this Friday include: Alloy, Active Voice, ACTV, 8x8, Iridium, Merisel, Mpath Interactive, Oracle and Pegasystems.

On Thursday, IBM Corp.'s (NYSE: IBM) stunning 20-point gain helped push the Dow up 107 points to a record close of 11,107.19 but some late profit-taking pulled the Nasdaq down 24 points to 2,582.08.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index dropped 9 to 327, reflecting investors taking profits.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average is set for a rocky open. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts sank 16 points to 1,359 at 8:53 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading, indicating a 130-point drop in the global bellwether. The reason: the Consumer Price Index for April, a general gauge of what the average consumer is paying for staple items, came out at 8:30 a.m. EST and was much higher than expected.

The CPI for April rose to 0.7 percent, far above the 0.4 percent expected. The core rate , which excludes food and energy prices, rose to 0.4 percent, double what economists predicted. A higher CPI would be viewed as a sign of inflation. That would give the Federal Reserve more reason to raise interest rates when they meet on Tuesday.

Asia

Asia was mixed after an afternoon sell-off of tech stocks in the U.S. on Thursday. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo dipped 0.24 percent to 16,810, the Seoul composite in South Korea declined 0.61 percent to 737, Singapore's Strait Times index added 0.77 percent to 1,883 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.52 percent to 12,855.

Europe

European markets treaded water as Europeans watch carefully how Russia will plot its course after its Prime Minister and Cabinet were sacked. London's FTSE 100 fell 0.54 percent to 6,421, the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.33 percent to 4,430 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt gained 1.02 percent to 5,301 at 8:01 a.m. EST.

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