MARKET PREVIEW: Economics and earnings ahead

2 min read

A few economic reports and some Yahoo news will help investors gauge whether they should hold onto the week's gains. Asian and European markets were mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.


On the last day of this shortened trading week, investors have lots of economic reports to digest. The stock and bond markets are closed Friday. The bond market closes early today.

Before the opening bell, the government will report March retail sales and wholesale inflation. Retail sales, which have been a key indicator that the economy hasn't sliipped into recession in recent months, is forecast to have stayed flat last month, compared with a 0.2 percent drop in February.

In other retail reports, individual store chains are set to release their monthly sales figures.

The Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale inflation, is also due. It is expected to have been up 0.1 percent in March, the same rate of increase as in February. The rate of inflation excluding food and energy is also forecast up to be 0.1 percent.

Investors may also take a look at the weekly jobless claims report, which is expected to show 380,000 new claims versus last week's 383,000.

In company news, Yahoo's first-quarter earnings report will get some attention. The Web portal, which had issued a profit warning, reported operating income of a penny a share. Despite the good news, the company slashed projections for the current quarter and the rest of 2001, and said it was cutting 12 percent of its staff.

Meanwhile, earnings from Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR) among others will keep things interesting.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Lam Research, Network Appliance, Redback Networks and Yahoo.

A chip-stock rally pushed the Nasdaq composite up 50 points to close at 1,902.41, while the Dow Jones industrial average shaved off 83 points to finish at 10,019.65.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open 3 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 0.3 points to 1173 at 7:15 a.m. EDT in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index gained 15 to 167.52.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 jumped 177.51 to 13,352.44, Singapore's Strait Times index fell 23.62 to 1,592.58 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 283.04 to 12,989.47.


European markets were also going in different directions. London's FTSE 100 fell 22.40 to 5,765.70, the CAC 40 in Paris lost 10.31 to 5,351.22 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 6.98 to 5,958.14.

Reuters contributed to this report.