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MARKET PREVIEW: Can techs continue to outpace the Dow?

Tech stocks, powered by continued earnings optimism, may outpace the Dow again on Friday. Asia and Europe were mixed, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

U.S.

Internet shares rose on the heels of Yahoo!'s strong earnings report Thursday. Following tradition, however, Yahoo actually dipped. Chips and PCs may also continue to see blue skies Friday, boosted by Apple Computer Corp.'s upgrade and news that Micron Electronics Inc. will join Dell Computer Corp. and others in the trend to give away "free" PCs.

Lucent Technologies Inc., and Citigroup Inc. will be part of President Clinton's plan to prepare minorities and the poor for high-tech jobs. On the tail of the Commerce Department's Thursday report, which details a growing divide between whites and minorities and the poor and rich online, President Clinton called attention to the launch of the Academy of Information Technology. The Academy will train urban high school students to fill the 1.3 million information technology posts the Commerce Department estimates will be created by the year 2006. Programs for the schools will be designed by Lucent and Citigroup.

Economic indicators show consumer spending is strong, according to reports released Thursday.

The Commerce Department issued a study showing U.S. businesses upped their inventories, while sales by wholesalers hit a record high in May. Total inventories rose 0.3 percent in May to $289.64 billion after a rise of 0.2 percent in April. Wholesale sales also jumped 1.5 percent in May to a record high of $225.5 billion, surpassing the previous record of $222.27 billion achieved in April.

The Lehman Brothers Same-Store Sales Growth Index also indicated shoppers continued their spending spree in June. The report indicated a 6.8 percent gain in June, compared with 6.1 percent during May, and 5.6 percent in June 1998. The Merrill Lynch retail index, which tracks discount and department store sales, climbed 6.3 percent during June, compared to 5.4 percent during May and 6.4 percent a year ago. Same-store sales, or comparable store sales, track sales at stores open at least a year.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: ATI Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ATYT), Cabletron Systems Inc. (NYSE: CS), Liquid Audio (proposed ticker: LQID), Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), Visio Corp. (Nasdaq: VSIO) and ValueVision International Inc. (Nasdaq: VVTV).

Blue-chip stocks cooled off a bit Thursday but technology stocks, particularly PC issues, pushed the Nasdaq composite up 29 points to 2,771.85. The Dow closed off 60 points to 11,126.89.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index rose 5.51 to 325.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average is set to open about 13 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 1.6 points to 1407 at 6:45 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

Asia

Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.17 percent to 17,937. Singapore's Strait Times index rose 1.01 percent to 2,182 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.03 percent to 14222.

Europe

European markets were mixed. London's FTSE 100 dropped 0.05 percent to 6,553. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.49 percent to 4,654 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.38 percent to 5,628 at 6:50 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.