The CPI and trade deficit reports will be closely watched by investors Friday, especially after Fed chief Alan Greenspan's hawkish testimony left them fearing the worst: a series of interest rate hikes. Asian markets were down, Europe was mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.
The Federal Reserve has raised the federal funds rate four times since June 1999 in an attempt to slow the economy, but Alan Greenspan said Thursday in his Humphrey-Hawkins testimony he saw "little evidence" that the raises had had any effect on the booming economy. Though Thursday's Producer Price Index, or PPI report, showed inflation on the wholesale level was lower than expected, the Federal Reserve Chairman's hints that more hikes are likely sent the Dow into decline.
Techs may continue to fight the overall downward trend Friday, as the markets take full stock of Greenspan's words, barring something exceptional from the day's economic data. Analysts expect that the consumer price index, or CPI, will show consumer prices to have risen 0.2 percent, the same increase as in December. The nation's trade deficit is expected to have grown to $26.7 billion in December from the record $26.5 billion in November.
The day's two IPOs priced high for debut; Inforte (Nasdaq: INFT) priced its 2 million shares at $32, the top of the upwardly revised $30 to $32 range. GigaMedia, a provider of high-speed broadband Internet access over cable TV lines in Taiwan (Nasdaq: GIGM) priced at $27.
Earnings will also keep techs busy Friday, with a report from Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GBLX), and reactions to earnings reported after last night's bell.
Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: ADC Telecom, Agilent, Ciena, Newbridge Networks and Novell.
Technology stocks weren't scared by some pointed comments from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan Thursday as the Nasdaq composite roared up 121 points to a record close of 4,548.75. The Dow closed off 47 points to 10,514.57.
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 21 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 2.8 points to 1388 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.
The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 15 to 603.83.
Trading in Asia was on a downswing. The Nikkei 225 lost 0.01 percent to 19,789, Singapore's Strait Times index slipped 2.36 percent to 2,177 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 2.25 percent to 16,599.
European markets were mixed. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.46 percent to 6,238. The CAC 40 in Paris dropped 0.29 percent to 6,137 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.27 percent to 7,601 at 7:07 a.m. EST.
Reuters contributed to this report.