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THE DAY AHEAD: Market Preview

Tech Industry

Look for a listless day of trading Thursday, but Internet stocks could move as a host of .com companies are scheduled to speak at an investment conference. Japan soared, but Europe slumped. The Dow is set to open lower.

U.S.

Keep an eye on the Internet stocks. CMGi (Nasdaq: CMGI) reports fiscal third quarter earnings after the bell and is the leading stock to watch.

In addition, a host of Net companies present at the PaineWebber investment conference in New York. iVillage (Nasdaq: IVIL), About.com (Nasdaq: BOUT), Infospace (Nasdaq: INSP), Priceline.com Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN), Network Solutions (Nasdaq: NSOL) and Go2Net Inc. (Nasdaq: GNET) are scheduled to present.

It's unlikely any earth-shattering news will come from the conference, but it doesn't take a lot to move a Net stock.

As for the rest of the techs and broader markets look for a yawner of a session.

Tech stocks were oblivious to any rate worries Wednesday, but had help from a rosy chip sales report. There's a dearth of news for Thursday so things might be choppy.

The markets split Wednesday as the Dow and the broader markets fell on speculation that the Federal Reserve is a lock to raise interest rates. If the Fed raises rates as expected, the markets may view it as good news just because the uncertainty will be lifted.

On Wednesday, the tech sector surged to leave the broader markets in the dust. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 45 points to 2,519.56, but the Dow dipped 75 points to 10,690.29. The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index also gained.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average is set to open about 40 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts fell 5 points to 1313.70 at 7:47 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

Asia

Surprise! Japan is growing again. Japan reported stronger-than-expected GDP growth. That's a big deal considering Japan's economy is actually growing for the first time in 18 months. The big question is how long will it last?

The GDP was released after market close in Japan, but was leaked to a leading newspaper. Gross domestic product for the first quarter grew by 1.9 percent. The consensus figure was a gain of 0.23 percent.

Needless to say the Nikkei 225 applauded, jumping 2.89 percent to 17,102.62, the Seoul composite in South Korea jumped 6.55 percent to 856.06, Singapore's Strait Times index climbed 1.17 percent to 2,030 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.27 percent to 12,839.21.

Europe

The FTSE pared early losses after The Bank of England cut Britain's key short-term interest rate by 25 basis points to 5 percent. But the European markets remained sluggish.

London's FTSE 100 was still down 0.48 percent to 6,422, the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.70 percent to 4,391 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt slipped 0.22 percent to 5,139 at 7:20 a.m. EST.

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