MARKET PREVIEW: Can news motivate economy-obsessed techs?

3 min read

Don't expect the dazzling new products and strategy shifts of tech bellwethers to look like rocket-science to economy-jaded markets Wednesday. Asia and Europe were up, and the Dow is set to open higher.


Apple unveils a new Mac. IBM hooks up with Cisco. Sun Microsystems unleashes a Microsoft office competitor. Intel showcases a blueprint for faster chips. All this is secondary to the market's hunger for economic news that could tilt the scale towards a third interest rate hike.

IBM's announcement of a five-year networking pact with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) may continue to stir things a little. Networking equipment maker MMC Networks (Nasdaq: MMCN) plummeted after it said late Tuesday that its fourth-quarter and fiscal 2000 revenue may suffer because of IBM's planned exit from the network switch/router business.

On the economic front, the Commerce Department's report on July construction spending figures is slated for release, and is expected to show a 0.3 percent increase. The previous report saw a 0.5 percent rise. Also, the Conference Board's report on leading indicators report for July is scheduled for release, and is expected to match the month-earlier reading at a rise of 0.3 percent.

Investors are also eyeing Friday's report on July employment for signs of strength in the economy that may provoke another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in order to cool economic growth.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Comverse Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: CMVT), MMC Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: MMCN), Ortel Corp. (Nasdaq: ORTL) and Shop at Home Inc. (Nasdaq: SATH).

U.S. stocks tumbled on discouraging economic reports Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 85 points to 10,829.28 while the Nasdaq added 27 points to finish at 2,739.34. The U.S. National Association of Purchasing Management was slated to release its monthly gauge of manufacturing activity Wednesday, but the data leaked to the market after it was posted on its Web site. The NAPM's index came in at 54.2 for August, lower than the expected 56.1. Although that would seem to calm inflation fears, the report showed signs of pricing strength, with its prices paid index rising to 59.8 from 54.7.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 45 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 5.5 points to 1325 at 7:33 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 6.2 to 296.74.


Trading in Asia was moving up. The Nikkei 225 rose 2.10 percent to 17,802, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 0.24 percent to 2,122 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.46 percent to 13,544.


European markets were also gaining ground. London's FTSE 100 put on 0.25 percent to 6,262. The CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.61 percent to 4,617 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.53 percent to 5,299 at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.