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MARKET PREVIEW: Wireless stocks take center stage

Wireless plays should get lots of attention Wednesday as techs digest Palm's earnings, and news that AT&T's wireless spin off will be the biggest IPO ever. Asian markets were mixed, Europe moved down, and the Dow is set to open flat to slightly lower.


Investors will be digesting a report from Palm Inc. (Nasdaq: PALM), whose third-quarter earnings beat analysts' forecasts. The company, a recent spin off of 3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) also said it saw growth slowing ahead.

AT&T Wireless also set the terms for its much-anticipated IPO in a filing with the SEC; it plans to sell 360 million shares at $26-32, which will make it the largest US IPO. The $13 billion deal is more than double the $5.5 billion raised by United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), which has been the largest to date. In other IPO news, high-speed ISP Telocity (Nasdaq: TLCT) priced shares at $12, for trading Wednesday.

Techs may remain discouraged following Tuesday's decline after Goldman Sachs' analyst Abby Joseph Cohen made some bearish statements on valuation.

OPEC's decision to ramp up oil output to keep global prices from swelling back to highs may give some strength to the broader markets. The only economic report slated for Wednesday is February's new home sales, which are expected to have slowed slightly since January.

Chip maker Intel Corp. (Nasadaq: INTC) may also attract attention after it announced it will ship its new 600 megahertz and 566 megahertz Celeron chips, in an attempt to leapfrog rival AMD (NYSE: AMD).

Expect these technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Emulex, Healtheon/WebMD, Palm and Xerox.

Internet and hardware stocks were hammered Tuesday as the Nasdaq composite shed 125 points to close at 4,834.00. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 90 points to end at 10,936.11.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open flat to 1 point lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 0.2 points to 1530 at 7:41 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 19 to 669.60.


Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.63 percent to 20,706, Singapore's Strait Times index slipped 1.19 percent to 2,181 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.12 percent to 18,096.


European markets were moving down. London's FTSE 100 shed 1.00 percent to 6,583. The CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.04 percent to 6,521 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.43 percent to 7,897 at 7:11 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.