Techs should lie low Friday, holding their breath along with the Dow for next week's Federal Reserve meeting. Asia and Europe mirrored U.S. hesitancy, and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.
The market seems to have made up its mind that more than a quarter-point raise is on the way. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond reached its highest level since November 1997, as bond prices fell in anticipation of a series of rate increases. Thursday's reported increase in durable goods orders and positive unemployment numbers stoked fears that the Fed may hike rates next week and then again at the August 24 meeting.
Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most active issues: Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), and Larscom (Nasdaq: LARS). Though the rumor mill is winding down towards the weekend, MindSpring Enterprises (Nasdaq: MSPG) may also move on speculation of "possible business combinations."
If America Online Inc.'s (NYSE: AOL) rumored plan to acquire MicroWorkz Computer Corp. and provide its Internet service on desktop machines goes ahead, this could be competition for Microsoft's Windows operating system.
As the close of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) antitrust trial draws nigh, competitor Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) also announced possible competition. Its Java programming language was closer to becoming an industry standard after the International Standards Organization agreed to consider its case.
Falling bond prices and interest-rate jitters pushed U.S. stocks lower Thursday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 132 points to 10,534.83 and the Nasdaq composite fell 44 points to end at 2,554.00.
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average is set to open about 11 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 1.40 points to 1331 at 7:35 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.
Trading in Asia followed the U.S. slump. The Nikkei 225 fell 1.09 percent at 17,436. Singapore's Strait Times index rose 0.60 percent to 2,178 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.03 percent to 13784, buoyed by demand for Hutchison Whampoa, which is investing in U.S. cellular operator VoiceStream Wireless Corp (Nasdaq:VSTR).
European markets were also tensing up on interest rate fears. London's FTSE 100 dropped 0.23 percent to 6,402 the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.29 percent to 4,421 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt fell 1.32 percent to 5,327 at 6:35 a.m. EST.
Reuters contributed to this report.