MARKET PREVIEW: Gates, Greenspan and Intel make techs' day

3 min read

Gates, Greenspan and Intel are the factors that will weigh on investors' minds Friday, as they decide what to do with techs ahead of the long weekend. Asian markets were mixed, Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.


Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan let it slip in a speech to the Economic Club of New York that that a recent rise in market interest rates was "supported by a central bank intent on defusing the imbalances that would undermine the expansion." There's only one thing that can mean -- its killjoy Fed to the rescue again, with a rate-hike to prevent the economy from veering into recession.

Greenspan's remarks that the current boom still shows few "signs of geriatric strain that typically presage an imminent economic downturn," have been interpreted to mean the Fed will only hike interest rates by a quarter point at its Feb. 1 to 2 meeting.

Investors will have more economic data to digest as they mull the state of the economy. December's CPI report is is expected to show prices rose at a 0.3 percent pace in December after gaining 0.1 percent in November.

The other big G guy, Bill Gates, is also stirring up the markets Friday. Gates has stepped down as CEO of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), handing day-to-day management of the company to right-hand man Steve Ballmer. He will remain chairman and take on the role of chief software architect as part of a reshuffling that will allow Gates to focus on long-term strategies.

Shares of Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) may actually keep rising, even though they were climbing all week ahead of the chip maker's fourth-quarter results. Intel not only blew past Wall Street forecast with profits of 69 cents a share, it also vaulted over whisper numbers that had been as high as 65 cents a share.

As if the markets didn't have enough to deal with, traders will also have to consider that financial markets are closed Monday for the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday

>Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Dallas Semi, Intel, Mercury Interactive, Microchip Technology, Microsoft and MIPS Technologies.

Internet and telecommunications stocks carried the technology sector higher Thursday as the Nasdaq composite charged up 107 points to 3,956.93. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 31 points to a record high of 11,582.43.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 67 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 8.5 points to 1467 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 22 to 550.32.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.65 percent to 18,956, Singapore's Strait Times index slipped 0.07 percent to 2,392 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.59 percent to 15,542.


European markets were on an upswing. London's FTSE 100 gained 1.16 percent to 6,607. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 1.02 percent to 5,690 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 2.08 percent to 7,100 at 7:12 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.