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MARKET PREVIEW: Rate fears linger

Without a steady flow of quarterly reports to keep morale up, techs may fell prey to interest rate anxiety again Wednesday. Asian and European markets moved down, and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.


As earnings reports dwindle, investors may give in to their obsession with interest rates. As the May 16 Federal Reserve meeting approaches, investors may become increasingly worried that the Fed may raise rates more than a quarter-percentage point.

Wednesday's economic news, March factory orders, won't lend much insight into inflation; the Commerce Department report is expected to show an increase of 1.5 percent, compared with a February decline of 0.8 percent.

Companies reporting first-quarter results include Peapod (Nasdaq: PPOD), (Nasdaq: HOMS) and Jupiter Communications (Nasdaq: JPTR).

Wednesday's IPO calendar was blank, and Linuxcare (Proposed ticker: LXCR) and Beatnik (Proposed ticker: BTNK) both announced they have withdrawn their planned IPOs.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: CDNow,, Newbridge Networks and Novell.

Technology stocks were trampled Tuesday as investors took some quick profits rather than ride out a possible interest-rate hike later this month. The Nasdaq composite closed off 173 points to 3,785.42 while the Dow lost 81 points to end at 10.731.12.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 11 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 1.5 to 1449 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 21 to 499.94.


Trading in Asia moved down. The Nikkei 225 was closed. Singapore's Strait Times index lost 1.00 percent to 2,145 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.52 percent to 15,577.


European markets were moving down. London's FTSE 100 lost 1.19 to 6,297. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.38 percent to 6,537 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.17 percent to 7,542 at 6:53 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.