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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs digest HP, Ciena earnings

A fresh batch of earnings could help investors continue the rally Thursday. The Dow is set to open slightly higher.

Stocks surged Wednesday afternoon in a delayed response to the Federal Reserve's half-point cut to interest rates Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average starts above the 11,000 mark for the first time this year, at 11,215.92, after gaining 3.2 percent. The Nasdaq composite index surged 3.9 percent Wednesday, leaving it at 2,166.44.

Though economic news isn't likely to garner much attention right after the Federal Reserve's most recent interest rate cut, investors may note a couple of reports. The weekly jobless claims report is expected to have risen from the preceding week. But it isn't expected to surpass the key 400,000 level. The April Index of Leading Indicators from the Conference Board is also due Thursday, after the markets open, and is expected to show a 0.1 percent increase, compared with the 0.3 percent decline in March.

Stocks to Watch

  • Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP) reported a lower second-quarter profit after Wednesday's closing bell. But the computer and printer maker's numbers still managed top reduced estimates on Wall Street. The company also said it is confident it will meet earnings forecasts for its third quarter--although sales could be lower because of weakness in the U.S. economy.

  • Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN) should also be on the move after it topped Wall Street estimates early Thursday with second-quarter earnings of $65.4 million, or 20 cents a share, excluding one-time items. The maker of fiber-optic telecommunications equipment also said it was comfortable with Wall Street estimates for future quarters and promoted operating chief Gary Smith to CEO.

    Earnings were well above First Call estimates of 16 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter was $425.4 million, up 20 percent from the first quarter and 129 percent from a year ago.

  • Dell Computer (NYSE: DELL) could also be active as it will report results after the bell Thursday. The PC maker is expected to report earnings of 17 cents a share, down from 19 cents a year earlier, according to First Call.

    At the Bell

    The Dow Jones industrial average may open 25 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 2.9 points to 1291 at 7:35 a.m. EDT in 24-hour electronic trading.

    Reuters contributed to this report.