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MARKET PREVIEW: Earnings, earnings, earnings

Big names that meet, beat, or disappointed earnings expectations after yesterday's bell will be the prime movers in Thursday's rising tide of earnings. Asia and Europe were mixed, and the Dow is set to open flat to slightly lower.


The earnings deluge has begun. Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE CPQ), Seagate (NYSE: SEG), Unisys (NYSE: UIS) and CNet (Nasdaq: CNET) earnings are on the way. Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) clobbered expectations thanks to iMac sales. Apple also said Wednesday it plans to buy back up to $500 million of its own stock. Other stocks moving on earnings reported after Wednesday's bell include Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), whose chief operating officer, Atiq Raza rubbed salt in the company's earnings wounds by announcing his resignation. Software designer Inktomi Corp. (INKT) and EarthLink Network Inc. (ELNK) also reported surprises (see HEADLINE scan).

The Commerce Department will report on Consumer Price Index, a yardstick of inflation for consumer goods, Thursday before the market opens. The rate is expected to rise by 0.1 percent, after a flat May. The index's core rate of inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is expected to have risen 0.2 percent, up from a 0.1 percent gain in May.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD), Applied Micro Circuits, Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC), Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), CyberCash Inc. (CYCH), Efficient Networks Inc. (Proposed ticker: EFNT), Inktomi Corp. (INKT), Rambus Inc. (RMBS), and Read-Rite Corp. (Nasdaq: RDRT).

Chip, chip-equipment and software stocks were all jumping Wednesday as the Nasdaq composite surged up 37 points to an all-time high of 2,815.06. The Dow fell 27 points to 11,1148.10 despite some positive economic reports.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may inch about 2 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 0.3 points to 1409 at 7:25 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 2.84 to 321.81.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.40 percent to 18,431, hitting a high for the year. Singapore's Strait Times index lost 0.96 percent to 2,157 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng grew 1.35 percent to 13,758.


European markets were on the rise. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.99 percent to 6,537. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.16 percent to 4,647 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.52 percent to 5,640 at 6:50 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.