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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs face IPOs, double-witching

Double-witching and a few IPOs may roil techs Friday on the interest rate turbid markets. Asia and Europe were up, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.


Trading could be volatile in the run-up to the expiry of stock index options and futures, otherwise known as a "double-witching" day, though the market's preoccupation with next week's Federal Reserve meeting should keep buying on the tame side.

Thursday's news that initial jobless claims were up, the U.S. trade deficit had widened, and the dollar was weakening against the yen put a firm end to techs' attempts to recover earlier in the week. The Nasdaq isn't likely to change its course on an August Friday, though a batch of IPOs may stir things up.

Agile Software Corp. (Proposed ticker: AGIL) should be the day's front runner, with an IPO of 3 million shares at $21 apiece. Lionbridge Technology (Proposed ticker: LIOX) also priced at $10 a share and (Proposed ticker: MYPT) priced its shares at $8 each for trading Friday.

Other technology stocks likely to be among Friday's most actively traded issues are Books-A-Million Inc. (Nasdaq: BAMM), Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), I2 Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ITWO), Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) and Quantum Corp. (Nasdaq: QNTM). LookSmart (Proposed ticker: LOOK) will also make its debut.

Weakness in the U.S. dollar and a rising trade deficit conspired to keep stocks lower Thursday. The Dow fell 28 points to 10,963.84 while the Nasdaq added 36 points to 2,621.43 in relatively light trading.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 11 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 1.3 points to 1328 at 7:30 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index slid 9.41 to 280.50.


Asian markets were moving up on news of a merger between three of Japan's largest banks and a flood of buying from overseas. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.22 percent to 18,098, Singapore's Strait Times index put on 0.84 percent to 2,087 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng grew 1.22 percent to 13,567.


European markets were also positive. London's FTSE 100 gained 0.46 percent to 6,146. The CAC 40 in Paris added 0.40 percent to 4,426 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.73 percent to 5,225 at 6:45 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.