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MARKET PREVIEW: All eyes on jobs data

A March employment report will help investors decide whether Thursday's astounding gains were a one-day event, or the beginning of a market recovery. Asian markets were mixed, Europe moved down and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

The Nasdaq and Dow Industrial average have a lot to live up to Friday, after posting their third-biggest and second-biggest point gain ever, respectively, on Thursday. A lot of investor optimism had to do with Dell's (NYSE: DELL) reaffirmation of its quarterly targets.

But stocks will face a few more profit warnings Friday--from the likes of Extreme Networks (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Sycamore (Nasdaq: SCMR)--along with an important piece of economic news.

The March jobs report, due before the market opens, is seen as a key indicator of the U.S. economy's health. Economists are expecting that 70,000 jobs were created last month, compared with a 135,000 rise in February. The unemployment rate is seen rising to 4.3 percent from 4.2 percent in February.

Also due out Friday morning is the February reading on wholesale inventories. Estimates call for a 0.1 percent increase, compared with a 0.3 percent drop in January.

In addition, a host of Federal Reserve officials are speaking today at various functions. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is giving a speech at 3:15 p.m. EDT.

Stocks that should be active Friday include TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO), Sycamore Networks, Extreme Networks and BMC Software (NYSE: BMC).

Thursday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 146.29 to 1,785.09, snapping a run of three consecutive losing sessions and posting its third-highest percentage increase in a single day.

At the bell
The Dow Jones industrial average may open 22 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was off 2.5 points to 1,152 at 7:20 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 19 to 139.09.

Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 rose 2.38 to 1,3383.76, Singapore's Strait Times index fell 6.70 to 1,670.18 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 322.90 to 12,386.61.

European markets moved down. London's FTSE 100 fell 32.20 to 5,589.60, the CAC 40 in Paris fell 14.37 to 5,144.19 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 38.66 to 5,734.68.

Reuters contributed to this report.