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MARKET PREVIEW: CPI and triple witching hold sway

Techs may see some green on St. Patrick's Day Friday, though triple-witching and a CPI report could make the markets volatile. Asian and European markets moved ahead, and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.


The Consumer Price Index report and the "triple-witching" expiration of options, index options and futures contracts may make the markets uneasy Friday. Investors may hold back ahead of the upcoming Fed meeting, especially after bidding blue-chips into the biggest-ever one-day advance Thursday.

Friday's report on consumer prices will help investors fine-tune their expectations for future rate raises, though next Tuesday's Federal Reserve policy meeting is expected to result in another quarter-point increase in short-term interest rates.

The CPI is expected to show retail consumer prices rose at a 0.4 percent pace last month after a 0.2 percent increase in January.

A strong batch of IPOs priced above range for trading Friday: Internet appliance service provider, Netpliance (Nasdaq: NPLI), priced at $18, E-Business consultant, Integrated Information Systems (Nasdaq: IISX) priced at $15 and Universal Access (Nasdaq: UAXS), an independent intermediary connecting network suppliers and buyers, priced at $14. Linux software developer Caldera Systems (Nasdaq: CALD) raised its range to $10 to $12, but had yet to price.

Other technology stocks which should be among Friday's most actively traded issues include: Adobe Systems, Alloy Online, AOL, Fairchild Semiconductor and Jabil Circuit.

Just when it looked like the stock market was headed for an overdue correction, the Dow Jones industrial average exploded up 499 points to 10,630.60 Thursday, its largest one-day jump in history. Technology stocks, which spent most of the day in the red, caught fire in late trading as the Nasdaq composite roared up 135 points to finish at 4,717.29.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 36 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 5 points to 1473 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 19 to 630.03.


Trading in Asia was moving up. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.63 percent to 19,566, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 3.58 percent to 2,094 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 4.43 percent to 17,082.


European markets were also gaining ground. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.02 percent to 6,558. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.48 percent to 6,350 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 2.86 percent to 7,800 at 7:11 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.