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THE DAY AHEAD: Market Preview

Techs should add to Wednesday's modest gains. Asia was mixed and Europe was carried higher by the U.S. gains yesterday. The Dow is set to open higher.


At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average will continue its mild recovery at the bell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts rose 3 points to 1,351.9 at 7:27 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading, are indicating a 24-point gain in the global bellwether.

On Wednesday, techs enjoyed modest gains, with the notable exceptions of IBM and Dell. The Nasdaq composite added 19 points to 2,577.40. The Dow closed up 50 points to 10,887.39.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 3 to 327 on Wednesday.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), the David that's becoming Barnes & Noble Inc.'s (NYSE: BKS) Goliath, filed to issue another $2 billion in debt, which could mean big trouble down the road for online retailer.

At present, Amazon.com goes through money for acquisitions and marketing like Buffalo Bills fans tearing into a bucket of wings. The rationale to Amazon is that they can, whenever they see fit, turn off the spending machine and post a profit. Don't bite into that one. The Web, with all its search engines and other shopping tools makes any online shopper the furthest thing from loyal. If Amazon doesn't keep reminding consumers that they buy CDs, books, drugs and get into an auction or two, people will go to the myriad of other competitors in a heartbeat.

And with all debt hanging around its neck, Amazon has to keep its revenue stream flowing smooth, which means more spending on advertising.

To be sure, with all these businesses, Amazon looks like it's transforming into the Wal-Mart of the Web. But a portfolio manager hinted that there are a lot of traditional retailers yet to attack the Web with this question: "Why can't Wal-Mart be the Wal-Mart of the Web?"

Among Thursday's stocks to watch: Amazon.com filed to sell another $2 billion in stock, Echostar is set to offer 500 channels, Etec Systems falls short in its third quarter, eToys begins trading later today, Lernout & Hauspie makes a purchase and Photronics missed the mark in its second quarter.


Asia was mixed after Japan's central bank said that its economy had stopped sliding, but wasn't set to grow in the near-term. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.45 percent to 16,199, the Seoul composite in South Korea fell 3.59 percent to 708, Singapore's Strait Times index added 0.81 percent to 1,926 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.22 percent to 12,375.

The Bank of Japan said that there's no recovery in sight for the world's second largest economy. The main culprits: weak consumer spending and a dearth of investments into Japan's companies. On a potentially brighter side, Liberal Democratic Party leaders are considering another 10 trillion yen spending package ($80.6 billion) to revive the economy - making Roosevelt's New Deal look like pocket change.


European markets mirrored the U.S. mild gains. London's FTSE 100 rose 1 percent to 6,329, the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.29 percent to 4,388 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt gained 0.46 percent to 5,236 at 7:46 a.m. EST.

In Germany, business confidence slid in April, according to the Ifo Economic Research Institute. The Western business confidence index dropped to 89.7 from 90.2 in the previous month, which shows the stark difference between the U.S. robust economic growth and the flaccid strength of Europe.