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Tech Industry

MARKET PREVIEW: Techs to grasp for interest rate hints

Investors will be on their toes Wednesday for any tidbit of interest rate fodder Greenspan and other Fed officials may toss during their various speeches. Asia and Europe retreated, and the Dow is set to open lower.


Though the topic of Federal Reserve chairman's speech at 11:45 a.m. EST at Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Is "The American Century," it's likely to determine the day for techs. The inflation-edgy markets are set to teeter on the slightest hint of an interest rate hike.

Fed Gov. Laurence Meyer's speech to the Philadelphia Council for Business Economics at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers talk to the New York Economic Club at 1:30 p.m. are also likely to attract attention.

In other economic news, The Commerce Department has announced changes to the way it calculates economic growth. The revision, which treats software as a "business investment" rather than "purchased input" concludes that heavy investment in business software means economic output was stronger in the 1990s that previously calculated.

Techs also have a few deals to digest, though nothing as big as Tuesday's $36 billion Viacom and CBS deal, the biggest media merger to date. Global Crossing Ltd. (Nasdaq: GBLX) has struck a deal with Microsoft Corp. and Japan's Softbank Corp. to build a telecommunications network in Asia. Softbank owns 70 percent of Ziff Davis, the parent of ZDNet. Internet portal firm Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) has agreement to buy for $78.3 million to beef up its financial offerings.

Other technology stocks likely to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues include Inc. (Nasdaq: AWEB), Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), RCM Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: RCMT) and Siebel Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: SEBL).

Stocks were little changed in sideways trading Tuesday following last week's strong rally. The Dow Jones industrial average shaved off 44 points to end at 11,034.13 while the Nasdaq trimmed 6 points to finish at 2,837.25.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 54 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 6.60 points to 1,346 at 7:40 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.


Asian markets drifted lower. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.37 percent to 17,641, cautious ahead of Thursday's release of Japan's gross domestic product data for the April-to-June period. Singapore's Strait Times index lost 0.38 percent to 2,097 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.29 percent to 13,357.


European markets were also edging down. London's FTSE 100 lost 0.23 percent to 6,295, extended its early loss after the Bank of England made a surprise quarter point rise in its key short term lending rate to 5.25 percent. The CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.05 percent to 4,678 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.21 percent to 5,380 at 7:05 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.