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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs to continue turnaround?

Techs should continue to brighten Thursday, coasting on the combination of Wednesday's Beige Book news and Red Hat debut - unless July sales figures blacken the interest rate horizon. Asia and Europe were up, and the Dow is set to open higher.


Stocks scored their biggest gains since June on Wednesday. The debut of Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT), the Linux software producer, added to the day's cheer, surging about 250 percent in the eighth-best IPO debut in market history. July sales figures, due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT may make or break the day for techs still sensitive to economic news.

The Fed's most recent Beige Book, a report that maps nationwide business, said the economy is strong but may run into labor and supply shortages, especially in home-construction. The period from mid-June to early August surveyed showed only scattered signs of inflation, and will be reviewed closely at the Fed's Aug. 24 meeting on interest rates.

Though the Beige Book neutralized concerns over inflation, the producer price index, scheduled for release Friday, and the consumer price index, due out next week, may clash with this week's interest rate optimism. The Labor Department is to release weekly jobless claims Thursday, with new claims expected to come in around 294,000, down from last week's 295,000.

In non-economic news, Iridium World Communications (Nasdaq: IRID) said late Wednesday it has defaulted on $1.5 billion in debt payments, pushing the company closer to insolvency, and tugging on its principle backer, Motorola (NYSE: MOT).

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Etec Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ETEC), Lattice Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: LSCC)and Teligent Inc. (Nasdaq: TGNT).

Technology stocks caught fire in late trading after some encouraging economic news wafted out from the Federal Reserve Board Wednesday. The Dow stormed up 133 points to 10,787.80 while the Nasdaq surged up 75 points to 2,564.94.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 31 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 3.7 points to 1308 at 7:45 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 8.69 to 262.70.


Trading in Asia was tracking the U.S. recovery. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.23 percent to 17,423, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 1.27 percent to 2,013 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 2.75 percent to 12,780.


European markets were also looking up. London's FTSE 100 grew 1.88 percent to 6,127. The CAC 40 in Paris added 2.00 percent to 4,355 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.82 percent to 5,111 at 6:50 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.