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MARKET PREVIEW: AT&T Wireless, GDP data, earnings take stage

The biggest U.S. IPO in history, key economic reports, and another flood of earnings will keep techs busy Thursday. Asian and European markets were mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.


AT&T Wireless Group (NYSE: AWE), a tracking-stock of AT&T's mobile and fixed wireless operating subsidiaries, priced 360 million shares at $29.50 for the largest U.S. IPO ever. Wireless network antenna maker, Metawave Communications (Nasdaq: MTWV), cut its IPO price to $9 for trading Thursday.

A higher-than-expected number for any of Thursday's three economic indicators could spark pressure on the market, since it could signal the Federal Reserve is more likely to raise interest rates at the next meeting on May 16.

The first-quarter gross domestic product, or GDP figure is due out from the Commerce Department before market open, along with a report on wage and benefit costs from the Labor Department. The GDP is expected to have risen at an annual rate of 6.0 percent in the first quarter, down from the strong 7.3 percent rate in the fourth quarter. The GDP price deflator, a key index of inflation, is expected to have risen at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the quarter, up from a 1.9 percent rate in the fourth quarter.

The Employment Cost Index, a measure of payroll and benefit costs, is also due out. It is expected to have risen 0.9 percent in the quarter, down from the 1.0 percent rise in the fourth quarter.

On the earnings front, MCI Worldcom (Nasdaq: WCOM), Network Solutions (Nasdaq: NSOL), eToys (Nasdaq: ETYS), GTE Corp (NYSE: GTE), (Nasdaq: FLWS), (Nasdaq: TSCM) and LookSmart (Nasdaq: LOOK) are just a few of the tech companies slated to report.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues:, InfoSpace, Macromedia, Scient and VerticalNet.

Technology stocks lost their momentum in late trading Wednesday as the Nasdaq composite fell 81 points to 3,630.17. The Dow Jones industrial average closed off 179 points to 10,945.50.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 22 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 3 points to 1472 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 10 to 480.82.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.63 percent to 18,019, Singapore's Strait Times index rose 2.04 percent to 2,151 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.23 percent to 15,192.


European markets were also moving in different directions. London's FTSE 100 gained 0.56 percent to 6,291. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.63 percent to 6,350 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.20 percent to 7,373 at 7:11 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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