MARKET PREVIEW: Techs edgy on thin volume, Fed anticipation

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Thin trading on Veteran's day, and a hold-out ahead of next Tuesday's Fed meeting may may make techs edgy. Asia was mixed, Europe was up, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.


Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL)'s earnings will be in the spotlight Thursday, as the PC seller had warned that higher memory chip prices might dent results. First Call is predicting a downwardly revised profit of 18 cents a share. While analysts lowered their estimates, most say the squeeze on gross profit margins will be temporary and that strong PC demand will carry the stock up through 2000.

Techs will continue to digest the larger-than-expected growth of core PPI data from yesterday as they try to anticipate what the Fed will do to interest rates next Tuesday. Techs may also hold back ahead of Friday's third-quarter productivity numbers, the last big economic indicator before the Federal Reserve's meeting. The U.S. bond market, government offices and most banks will be closed for Veterans Day.

The day's IPOs take the stage in the shadow of yesterday's offerings: UPS, the largest US IPO ever, and Expedia, Microsoft's long-awaited spin-off. ASD Systems (Proposed ticker: ASDS) priced 5 million shares at $8 a piece, and Internet firewall firm, SonicWall (Proposed ticker: SNWL) priced at $14 a share for trading Thursday.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Dell, Computer Associates, Concentric Network, Fashionmall.com, Luminant Worldwide and Rhythms NetConnections.

Technology stocks, led by chip and PC issues, rallied again Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq composite up 31 points to another record close of 3,155.99. The Dow Jones industrial average closed off 20 points to 10,597.74.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 15 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 2 points to 1382 at 7:34 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was up 5 to 398.76.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 shed 1.30 percent to 18,327, Singapore's Strait Times index gained 0.69 percent to 2,154 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.93 percent to 14,106.


European markets were moving up. London's FTSE 100 rose 1.13 percent to 6,520. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.87 percent to 5,096 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.26 percent to 5,1757 at 7:14 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.