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Greenspan comments may ease worries

Reassuring words from the Federal Reserve Board chairman should help sooth investors' fears and boost the markets.

Some reassuring words from Alan Greenspan should help sooth investors' fears and boost the markets Monday. Greenspan said he did not see inflationary pressures on the U.S. economy.

"What we this moment is a very extraordinary lack of pricing power in the American economy, which means in effect that the cost increases are not following through into significant pressures on prices but rather on profit margins," Greenspan told attendees at the International Monetary Conference in Singapore via a satellite-video link. "As best as we can judge at this particular moment there is very little in the way of emerging short-term inflationary expectations...but we are obviously watching closely."

The Federal Reserve Board has lowered interest rates five times already this year, spurred on in part by the lack of inflation issues.

Greenspan's comments should help boost stocks Monday morning; the markets closed slightly higher Friday.

Stocks to watch
• Microsoft and AOL Time Warner are fighting again; the two companies are at odds over Microsoft's new Windows XP operating system. At issue is whether to include AOL software with the new OS. Microsoft shares closed up $1.16 to $70.34 Friday. AOL was up 56 cents to $52.75.

• Palm should be on the move today, after the company announced plans to lay off more workers this summer. Palm had already announced job actions; Friday's news was that they would be larger than previously predicted. That news, coming on top of a recent earnings warning and other problems, has fueled speculation that the company could be poised for a takeover. Palm closed up 56 cents to $6.19 Friday.

• Cisco Systems said in a 10Q filing Friday that its hard times will continue "for the foreseeable future." Cisco has struggled with an inventory glut and a sharp drop-off in demand for its products in recent months. Shares closed down 41 cents to $18.85 Friday.

• Comverse Technologies, which makes technology for call centers and telecommunications services, will report first-quarter earnings after the bell today. Analysts are expecting the company to post a profit of 42 cents per share.

At the bell
The Dow Jones industrial average may open 42 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 2 points to 1267 at 4:58 a.m. PDT in 24-hour electronic trading.