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MARKET PREVIEW: Investors eye Net stocks

Earnings and Net appliances should draw investors' attention to Internet stocks Thursday, as the markets absorb Yahoo!'s quarterly report and note AOL's deal with Gateway. Asian markets were mixed, Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open higher.


The Nasdaq managed to close with slight gains after another volatile day of trading Wednesday. Techs may have another roller-coaster ride in store for them Thursday, as investors continue to worry about valuation.

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) shares may take a dip after being built up ahead of the company's better-than-expected earnings report last night, especially after it missed the Street's unofficial whisper number. Circuit City (NYSE: CC) is also expected to report quarterly results Thursday.

Other action on the Internet could renew interest in Linux-related shares. AOL (NYSE: AOL) and Gateway (NYSE: GTW) announced late Wednesday a new breed of internet appliances that will run on the alternative to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows operating system.

In IPO news, handheld wireless data firm, i3 Mobile (Nasdaq: IIIM), priced its IPO at $16, the top of the range. LivePerson (Nasdaq: LPSN) was slated to price shares between $13 and $15 a piece.

Economic news on wholesale inventories is also slated for release Thursday; the report is expected to show a rise of 0.6 percent in February, compared with a 0.7 percent gain in January.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues:, Galileo Technology, Harbinger, RedHat, and Yahoo!.

Tech stocks regained their equilibrium Wednesday as the Nasdaq composite picked up 20 points to close at 4,169.34. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 131 points to end at 11,033.92.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 51 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 7.0 points to 1512 at 7:38 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 2 to 569.63.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.17 percent to 20,223, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 2.73 percent to 2,111 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1.06 percent to 16,491.

Japan's high-flying Internet investor Softbank Corp., which owns significant stakes in ZDNet (NYSE: ZDZ), Yahoo and E*Trade (Nasdaq: EGRP) among others, warned on Thursday it would fall deeper into the red on a group current basis in the just ended year, a move which analysts said could further undermine already shaky sentiment towards the company.


European markets were moving up. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.26 percent to 6,403. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 2.37 percent to 6,179 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.87 percent to 7,394 at 7:15 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.