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MARKET PREVIEW: Excuses to sell

What, techs overvalued!? Techs may still be reeling Friday from Microsoft President Steve Ballmer's unoriginal idea that sent investors on a divesting frenzy in the last hour of trading Thursday. Asia and Europe followed U.S. markets down, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

U.S.

Microsoft Corp. shares tumbled five percent Thursday after Ballmer said technology stocks -- including Microsoft's -- were so overvalued it is "absurd." Ballmer has made this observation on several occasions before, along with other Microsoft officials. The market may have been just a little bit touchy after analyst Drew Peck at SG Cowen reported that the earthquake in Taiwan may affect the fourth quarter for Intel and others. The bond market rallied as investors leapt into longer-term holdings and the dollar stabilized against the yen.

Basically, the market may have need a few excuses to sell.

After looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth, Microsoft now plans to take advantage of a hot IPO market. Microsoft announced Thursday that it would spin off its online travel service site Expedia Inc. in an debut valued at $75 million later this year.

Meanwhile, a hoard of IPOs were pricing for trading Friday: NetZero (Nasdaq: NZRO), Alteon WebSystems (Nasdaq: ATON), Bluestone Software (Nasdaq: BLSW), Webstakes.com (Nasdaq: IWIN), Interspeed Inc.(Nasdaq: ISPD) loaded themselves on deck to brave the rough markets.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Analog Devices Inc. (NYSE: ADI), Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), Lattice Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: LSCC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and NetZero Inc. (Proposed ticker: NZRO).

MCI WorldCom Inc (Nasdaq:WCOM) and Sprint Corp (NYSE: FON), the number 2 and 3 U.S. long distance carriers, may also move Friday after a report in the Wall Street Journal which said an acquisition, may be in the works.

A late selling spree sent technology stocks into a horrendous slide Thursday as the Nasdaq composite plunged 108 points to 2,750.50, the fourth-largest decline in its history. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 205 points to end at 10,318.59.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 18 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 2.2 points to 1289 at 7:30 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index sank 14 to 306.11.

Asia

Trading in Asia was on a downswing. The Nikkei 225 fell 2.62 percent to 16,871, Singapore's Strait Times index lost 2.39 percent to 2,019 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.38 percent to 13,032.

Europe

European markets were also moving down. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.30 percent to 5,952. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 1.08 percent to 4,552 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 1.76 percent to 5,206 at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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