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MARKET PREVIEW: Wall Street refocuses

With the U.S. Presidential election finally over, Wall Street turns its attention to economic issues Thursday - corporate earnings, mergers and a slowing economy. Asian and European markets were all down and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.


On the earnings side, investors will be awaiting the release Internet software maker Oracle's second-quarter numbers. The company is expected to top analysts' estimates of 10 cents a share for its fiscal second quarter. Other companies reporting include, Adobe, Red Hat and CMGI.

The Wall Street Journal today reported that America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) have signed a deal with the Federal Trade Commission that would open their cable systems to Internet rivals. The deal is expected to remove one of the last remaining hurdles to the mega-merger, which may receive FTC approval today.

Another economic indicator will be released before the bell. The November Producer Price Index, a key measure of inflation, will be announced at 8:30 am EST.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), Sanmina (Nasdaq: SANM) and Verity (Nasdaq: VRTY).

The Nasdaq shed 109 to 2,822.77 at market close Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.17 to 10,794.44.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to open down 57 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 futures index lost 7.30 to 1370.50 at 7:22 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index dropped 15 to 357.73.


The major Asian markets all lost ground. The Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng both posted triple-digit losses, dropping 241.49 to 14,927.19 and 124.74 to 15,496.99, respectively.


In Europe, the story was much the same. London's FTSE 100 fell 107.40 to 6,295.60, the CAC 40 in Paris shed 72.54 to 5,889.75 and the DAX in Frankfurt was off 101.18 to 6,519.03 at 7:12 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.