MARKET PREVIEW: Wall Street awaits job data

Investors will be eyeing the December jobs report, set for release before the bell Friday. The major markets in Asia and Europe moved up and the Dow is set to open slightly lower.


The U.S. Labor Department will release the closely watched unemployment numbers for December this morning at 8 a.m. EST. According to analysts at Briefing.com, the report is predicted to show weakness, with forecasts calling for a rise in the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent from 4 percent in November.

Internet telephony company Nx Networks (Nasdaq: NXWX) warned before the bell. The company said its revenues for the fourth quarter and fiscal year will be lower than expected because of weak demand in the U.S. and Europe.

E-services consulting firm Sapient (Nasdaq: SAPE) said late yesterday its fourth-quarter earnings per share fell 16 percent short of the Wall Street forecasts.

Following on the heels of Wednesday half-point interest rate cut, the U.S. Federal reserve lowered the discount rate Thursday by a quarter percentage point.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most "http:="" www.zdii.com="" industry_list.asp?mode="news&doc_id=ZE507087&pic=Y"" rel="">actively traded issues: Brooktrout (Nasdaq: BRKT), eToys (Nasdaq: ETYS), Next Level Communications (Nasdaq: NXTV) and Sapient (Nasdaq: SAPE).

Wednesday's Greenspan rally was short lived, as the Nasdaq slipped 49.86 to 2,566.83 Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 33.34 to 10,912.41.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to open down 10.5 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 futures index slipped 1.30 to 1347 at 7:22 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index shed 6 to 292.19.


The major Asian markets saw positive movement. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and the Nikkei 225 posted triple-digit gains, up 212.58 to 15,447.61 and 176.12 to 13,867.61, respectively. The Singapore's Strait Times moved up 54.07 to 1,974.82.


European markets hung on to modest gains. London's FTSE 100 rose 28.5 to 6,214.10, the CAC 40 in Paris inched up 8.11 to 5,824.10 and the DAX in Frankfurt gained 25.97 to 6,402.51 at 7:07 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.