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MARKET PREVIEW: China trade, Microsoft are headliners

A vote on trade relations with China and the latest chapter of Microsoft's antitrust trial take center stage Wednesday. Asian and European markets moved down, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.


If the House of Representatives votes to grant permanent normal trade relations with China, that could be a boon for business overseas, while a defeat would be seen as a major setback.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) attorneys head back for another round in the software giant's antitrust trial. Arguments on the penalty phase of the case will begin, and investors will have their ears perked for clues as to whether the judge is leaning toward regulators' proposed breakup.

A few earnings are also on deck Wednesday: Dataram (Nasdaq: DRAM), Eplus (Nasdaq: PLUS), FirePond (Nasdaq: FIRE) and Vicinity (Nasdaq: VCNT) are slated to report quarterly results.

DSL chip firm, Centillium Communications (Nasdaq: CTLM), priced its IPO at $19, the mid-point of its downwardly revised range.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Crossroads Systems, Conextant, Intuit, Novell and VA Linux.

Technology stocks were battered again Tuesday, pushing the Nasdaq composite down 200 points to 3,164.43, its lowest close so far this year. The Dow didn't fare much better, falling 120 points to 10.422.27.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 41 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 5.4 to 1388 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 34 to 400.96.


Trading in Asia was on a downswing. The Nikkei 225 fell 1.68 to 16,044, Singapore's Strait Times index fell 1.78 percent to 1,871 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 2.27 percent to 13,933.


European markets were also headed south. London's FTSE 100 fell 0.22 percent to 6,073. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 1.88 percent to 6,033 and the DAX in Frankfurt was down 1.37 percent to 6,832 at 7:05 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.