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MARKET PREVIEW: Techs eye economic data

After two dismal sessions, tech investors are eyeing a report on January inflation before making a move. Markets in Asia and Europe were down, and the Dow is set to open flat to slightly lower.


The January Consumer Price Index, due from the Labor Department before market opens, will determine the day for techs. Economists expect a rise of 0.3 percent, up from 0.2 percent in December, with the rate excluding food and energy costs seen up 0.2 percent.

Other news that should catch investors' attention includes a warning from Agilent (NYSE: A). The maker of testing and measurement equipment gave a grim outlook for fiscal 2001 revenue Tuesday.

Bad news from VA Linux (Nasdaq: LNUX) will also sink in Wednesday. The company lowered expectations--for revenue of less than $30 million in the fiscal third quarter, which ends in April--and announced job cuts.

On the brighter side, Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) managed to top earnings estimates, despite missing revenue projections. The accounting software company also said it expects third-quarter and full-year results to meet expectations.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Agilent, Intuit, New Era of Networks and VA Linux.

Investors unloaded tech stocks Tuesday as the Nasdaq composite shed 107 points to 2,318.54. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 69 points to finish at 10,730.88.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open flat. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was unchanged at 1285.30 at 7:25 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 17 to 239.03.


Trading in Asia was on a downswing. The Nikkei 225 shed 148.28 to 13,100.08, Singapore's Strait Times index lost 14.91 to 1,961.22 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 175.85 to 15,351.51.


European markets were also in the red. London's FTSE 100 fell 18.20 to 5,961.90, the CAC 40 in Paris slipped 74.19 to 5,474.55 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 95.32 to 6,356.25 at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.