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MARKET PREVIEW: Wall Street digests economic data

Economic data, along with a handful of tech earnings, will be the order of the day on Thursday. Trading in Asia was mixed while in Europe markets fell. Early indicators have the Dow set to open lower.


The U.S Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a half point yesterday, as expected, and lowered its federal funds rate to 5.5 percent. Concern over an erosion of consumer and business confidence drove the central bank to lower rates for the second time this year.

A number of economic reports will be released this morning. The National Association of Purchasing Management's manufacturing index for January is expected to come in at 43.8 percent according to economists surveyed by Also due out are the December reports on personal income and spending and weekly jobless claims.

On the earnings front, Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) met analysts' consensus estimates for its fourth-quarter profits while Sprint's long distance unit (NYSE: PCS) reported earnings that were slightly ahead of the Street's targets.

Electronics manufacturer Celestica (NYSE: CLS) blew by fourth-quarter earnings estimates on strong growth in its server and communications business. Company officials also upped earnings and revenue targets for 2001, after yesterday's market close.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Mentor Graphics (Nasdaq: MENT), StorageNetworks (Nasdaq: STOR) and webMethods (Nasdaq: WEBM).

The Nasdaq closed Wednesday's session down 65.62 to 2,772.73 while the Dow Jones industrial average inched up 6.16 to 10,887.36.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to open down 15 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 futures index slipped 1.90 to 1371.00, below fair value, at 7:21 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index shed 12 to 310.93.


The major Asian markets were mixed. On the positive side, Hong Kong's Hang Seng moved up 61.64 to 16,163.99. The Nikkei 225 and Singapore's Straights Times both fell, down 64 to 13,779.55 and 8.91 to 1,982.38, respectively.


European markets traded lower. London's FTSE 100 was down 54.20 to 6243.30, the CAC 40 in Paris was off 114.77 to 5,883.72 and the DAX in Frankfurt lost 82.80 to 6,712.34 at 7:08 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.