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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

MARKET PREVIEW: Techs chew bad bellwethers, await economic entree

The main economic dish may save techs from seeing red Thursday, after Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Amazon left a bitter taste the market's mouth yesterday. Asia was up, Europe was mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

U.S.

Key economic indicators will be released before Thursday's opening bell; the third-quarter gross domestic product and the October employment cost index will set techs' pace by their inflation outlook. The GDP is expected to have grown at an annual rate of 4.7 percent, while the ECI is expected to have slowed its growth to 0.9 percent.

A couple bad apples may spoil the day for techs -- Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP) said setbacks in its computer server division would cause a decline in earnings. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) looked like one of the few bright spots, after it beat Wall Street forecasts and doubled its revenue. But it also tripled its loss since last year and sees rising expenses. Shares were down in pre-market trading.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) wasn't looking too upbeat Thursday either, after The Wall Street Journal reported that PC makers are stealthily developing products that will not use its ubiquitous Windows. Investors are also paring back their holdings as software shifts to Web-based computing, and the courts decide the outcome of the antitrust trial.

Earnings on deck include Infoseek (Nasdaq: SEEK), MCI Worldcom (Nasdaq: WCOM), eToys (Nasdaq: ETYS), and BarnesandNoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN).

Expect these technology stocks to be among the day's most active: Amazon, Ameritrade, Hewlett-Packard, Macromedia, The 3DO Company and Read-Rite.

Some decent economic news helped revive buying on Wall Street Wednesday as the Dow Jones industrial average charged up 93 points to close at 10,394.89. The Nasdaq composite, hampered by weakness in the Internet sector, fell 9 points to 2,802.48.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 31 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 4 points to 1309 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 3 to 332.63.

Asia

Trading in Asia was on an upswing as the dollar regained ground against the yen. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.18 percent to 17,414, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 0.72 percent to 2,003 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.39 percent to 12,759.

Europe

European markets were also moving up. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.03 percent to 6,048. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.39 percent to 4,713 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.37 percent to 5,384 at 6:54 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.