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Tech Industry

MARKET PREVIEW: Techs eye Dell earnings, IPOs

Dell earnings and strong batch of IPOs will be center stage Friday, as techs also absorb some data on retail sales. Asian and European markets were mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

U.S.

After Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) met lowered earnings expectations, shares slid 29/32 to 37 7/8 in after-hours trading. The retailer of personal computers saw earnings rise to $436 million, or 16 cents a share in the quarter, including an investment gain of a penny a share. The results were still well below the estimates of just a few weeks ago, before Dell warned that problems with the supply of chips from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq INTC) and a slower-than-expected rebound in corporate purchases after the New Year would hurt its fourth-quarter results.

On the IPO front, XML B-to-B software firm, webMethods (Nasdaq: WEBM)is ready to blast off with shares priced at $35, well above their upwardly revised $28 to $30 range. The original range was $11-13.

Pets.com (Nasdaq: IPET) priced its offering of 7.5 million shares at $11, the high end of its $9-11 range. Lante Corporation (Nasdaq: LNTE), an IT consultant, priced 4 million shares at $20.

Foreign issues include FLAG Telecom Holdings (Nasdaq: FTHL) which priced at $24, and European/Latin America ISP, VIA NET.WORKS (Nasdaq: VNWI), which priced its IPO at $21, the top of the revised $19-21 range.

January retail sales statistics are due Friday morning, and are expected to show a 0.5 percent rise in the month, or a 0.6 percent rise excluding auto sales.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Cabletron Systems, Dell, Delta 3 and Winstar Communications

Technology stocks continued their outstanding performance Thursday as the Nasdaq composite rallied up 122 points to a record close of 4,485.59. The Dow Jones industrial average closed off 56 points to 10,643.63.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 25 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 3.3 points to 1422 at 7:34 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 18 to 611.18.

Asia

Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 lost 1.49 percent to 19,710, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 0.43 percent to 2,234 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 3.18 percent to 17,380.

Europe

European markets were also moving in different directions. London's FTSE 100 fell 1.15 percent to 6,207. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.04 percent to 6,271 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.02 percent to 7,788 at 7:11 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.