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MARKET PREVIEW: Jobs data sets stage for techs

Techs could get whiplash again Friday as economic data which may forebode the future of interest rates is sure to turn heads. Asia was down, Europe was up, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.


Internet stocks staged a sharp turnaround Thursday, as bargain-hunters gave in to temptingly low prices. Not many of them got in on the day's IPOs though, which made only mediocre gains or sunk below their offering prices.

A batch of new offerings are hoping to outdo Thursday's performance; Internet Gold (Nasdaq: IGLD) and (Nasdaq: TMDW) both priced at $12 a share, while Networks Inc.(Nasdaq: WOMN) and Datalink (Nasdaq: DTLK) have yet to decide if they'll test this week's dicey market. US Interactive (Nasdaq: USIT) has postponed its debut for next week.

Economic data is poised to take center stage, and make or break the market for Friday's IPOs. July employment figures are expected to show that the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3 according to economists surveyed by Reuters. A lower rate could trigger the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to stave off inflation when it meets August 24.

The number of new jobs created is expected to be about 199,400, down from 268,000 in June, while average hourly earnings are expected to have risen 0.3 percent, slightly slower than the 0.4 percent rate recorded in the previous month. The Labor Department will report on the employment situation for July at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Omnipoint Corp. (Nasdaq: OMPT), SCI Systems Inc. (NYSE: SCI), Sterling Commerce Inc. (NYSE: SE) and Verio Inc. (Nasdaq: VRIO).

Stocks fell sharply in early trading Thursday but by day's end technology stocks, led by Internet issues, were in the black. The Nasdaq composite closed up 26 points to 2,565.80 while the Dow added 119 points to finish at 10,793.82.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 33 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 4.0 points to 1325 at 7:35 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 9.64 to 265.54.


Trading in Asia was on a downswing. The Nikkei 225 fell 1.58 percent to 17,084, Singapore's Strait Times index lost 0.62 percent to 2,069 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.66 percent to 13,167.


European markets were looking up. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.95 percent to 6,159. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.69 percent to 4,270 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.20 percent to 5,038 at 6:50 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.