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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

MARKET PREVIEW: Techs jittery amid more Fed talk

The only number nine that may rile techs Thursday is the ninth year of economic expansion for the U.S. economy, which Greenspan made reference to in his speech yesterday. Asia and Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.

U.S.

Some computer experts had warned of problems with old programs that could mistake the date 9-9-99 with a code used to terminate operations, seeing the "9999 bug" as a possible dry-run of the year 2000 problem. No problems were reported as the 9th of September came to a close in Asia.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan spoke Wednesday about the effects of technology and productivity on the U.S. economy, now into its 9th year of expansion. Though he hedged around the issue of interest rates, remarks later in the day from Fed governor Laurence Meyer sent the market into a slump. Meyer cautioned that continued tightening in the U.S. labor market could still generate inflation, and economic growth is likely to pick up during the rest of the year.

Three more Fed personalities are slated to speak Thursday: Governor Edward Gramlich, at a community leaders lunch in Boise, Idaho, at 2:30 p.m. EST. and governor Roger Ferguso, at the National Economists Club in Washington at 12:30 p.m. EST. After the bell, New York Fed president William McDonough, will speak in Buffalo, N.Y. at 8 p.m. EST. For full text of current Fed speeches see http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/1999/.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: AT&T Corp (NYSE: T), American Xtal Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: AXTI), Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM) and Superior TeleCom Inc. (NYSE: SUT).

Technology stocks were roughed up again Wednesday, sending the Nasdaq composite down 28 points to 2,808.78. After gaining more than 80 points in early trading, the Dow closed up only 2 points to 11,036.34

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 16 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 1.6 points to 1322 at 8:00 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

Asia

Trading in Asia was up, after Governments, companies and markets in Australia and Asia were all functioning glitch-free as the "four nines" business day closed across the pacific. The only nine of note was the rate of Japan's economic growth, 0.9 percent, which caused a surge in most Asian markets. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.21 17678 percent to 17,630, and Singapore's Strait Times index gained 1.43 percent to 2,127. Hong Kong's Hang Seng leapt 3.73 percent to 13,855.

Europe

European markets were moving up. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.01 percent to 6,254. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.46 percent to 4,702 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.21 percent to 5,421 at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.