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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs eye earnings and economic news

The earnings will keep on coming Wednesday, as online brokers and tech heavy-weights such as IBM, Apple and AOL strut their quarterly stuff. Asian and European markets moved down, and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.


America Online (NYSE: AOL), Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) are slated to report earnings Wednesday, and that's just the beginning of the alphabet.

Dow component IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) will also report. Internet brokers E-Trade Group (Nasdaq: EGRP) and DLJdirect (NYSE: DIR) are also slated for Wednesday, along with traditional brokers. Analysts are expecting the traditional brokers to gain from year ago results, while the Internet brokers post bigger losses.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was the big earnings news Tuesday; it and other companies that reported better-than-expected results after the bell will also gain some attention Wednesday.

A little economic news will add variety to the earnings headlines; data for December is expected to show housing starts came in at an annual rate of 1.6 million units, and building permits are expected to be reported at a rate of 1.58 million units.

In the afternoon, the Federal Reserve is expected to release its "Beige Book" report, summarizing the economic outlooks from its 12 regional banks.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: DoubleClick, Go2Net, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, uBid and Xilinx.

Blue-chip technology stocks took off ahead of some key earnings reports Tuesday as the Nasdaq composite closed up 66 points to 4,130.69, just missing a record close. The Dow closed off 162 points to 11,560.72.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 59 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 7.5 points to 1462 at 7:41 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 9 to 563.57.


Trading in Asia was down. The Nikkei 225 slipped 1.56 percent to 18,897, Singapore's Strait Times index slipped 2.8 percent to 2,255 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 3.25 percent to 15,275.


European markets were slumping. London's FTSE 100 lost 0.67 percent to 6,460. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 1.21 percent to 5,604 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.63 percent to 7,028 at 7:19 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.