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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs close out quarter

The last day of the Nasdaq's worst quarter in history may inspire a small rally Friday. Asian markets were mixed, European markets moved up, and the Dow is set to open higher.


With the Nasdaq composite index now 26 percent lower than it was at the end of 2000, the Dow industrials down 9 percent, and the S&P 500 down 13 percent, investors may decide they've punished stocks enough this quarter.

You could see a late-quarter flurry of activity as institutional investors pursue "window dressing," a move to tidy up portfolios before the quarter ends. A Reuters poll of 53 fund managers and strategists in the United States and abroad showed that a majority were reinvesting cash, with Japanese and European stocks getting the most attention. Investors in every region except the U.S. cut back on cash holdings in equity portfolios, the poll showed.

Technology stocks are almost at the quarter's finish line, but they're not through with profit warnings yet. Discount-computer seller Emachines (Nasdaq: EEEE) will cut 16 percent of its work force and pull back its efforts aimed at getting revenue from online advertising.

In positive company news, computer memory-chip maker Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) topped estimates, and software developer Corel (Nasdaq: CORL) lived up to its promise, posting a slight profit in its first quarter despite weaker-than-expected sales.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Corel, Gadzoox Networks and Versata.

Stocks were mixed in Thursday trading as the Nasdaq composite closed off 33 points to 1,820.54, while the Dow Jones industrial average moved up 14 points to finish at 9,799.06.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open 56 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 7 points to 1168 at 7:25 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 26 to 162.38.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 plunged 72.66 to 12,999.70 Singapore's Strait Times index rose 46.16 to 1,674.19 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 82.75 to 12,760.64.


European markets moved ahead. London's FTSE 100 rose 39.70 to 5,628.10, the CAC 40 in Paris gained 56.37 to 5,214.29 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 53.18 to 5,932.48.

Reuters contributed to this report.