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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs eye Microsoft&#039s fate

Microsoft will take the spotlight Friday, as earnings slow to a trickle, and plans for the software giant's break-up are unveiled. Asian markets were mixed, Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open higher.


The Justice Department antitrust prosecutors will announce its proposal to break up Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) into an operating systems and an application company, including its Office software. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson will consider the filing and the software giant's response in preparation for a hearing on remedies May 24. Microsoft executives maintain there won't be a break-up.

A report on personal income and spending comes in the shadow of Thursday's bad economic news; the markets managed to shrug higher-than-expected gross domestic product and employment cost index numbers yesterday, and will be on the look out for more warning signs of inflation Friday.

US West (NYSE: USW) and Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) reported earnings Friday.

On the IPO front, Software Technologies (Nasdaq: STCS), a developer of software that integrates disparate e-business IT systems, priced at $12. Chip manufacturer On Semiconductor (Nasdaq: ONNN) priced at $16. (Nasdaq: WNET) is also slated to price for trading Friday. ClientLogic (Nasdaq: CLGC) has withdrawn its offering.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues:, Inprise/Borland, eMachines, EDS, Microsoft and NetZero.

Technology stocks continued their seesaw-like performance of late as the Nasdaq composite hustled up 144 points to 3,774.95. The Dow Jones industrial average finished off 57 points to 10,888.10.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 42 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 5.7 points to 1473 at 7:41 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 20 to 500.88.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.25 percent to 17,973, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 0.58 percent to 2,164 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 2.15 percent to 15,519.


European markets were moving up. London's FTSE 100 rose 1.79 percent to 6,289. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.92 percent to 6,367 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.91 percent to 7,359 at 7:13 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.