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MARKET PREVIEW: Employment report sets stage for techs

April's employment report will dominate the markets Friday, as investors try to divine what the Fed will do with interest rates. Asian markets were down while Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.

U.S.

With investors edgy as the May 16 Federal Reserve meeting approaches, the report on April employment will make or break the market Friday. The report, which includes hourly earnings, jobs created in the month, the unemployment rate and the average workweek, is a key indicator of inflation. The report could tip the scales towards a half, rather than a quarter-point, hike in interest rates.

Expectations are for a 0.3 percent rise in hourly earnings, the creation of 325,000 new non-farm Jobs, and a fall in the unemployment rate to 4.0 percent from 4.1 percent. The average workweek was seen staying constant at 34.5 hours. The report will be released before Friday's opening bell.

No tech IPOs were bold enough to brave the markets Friday.

The following technology stocks should be among the day's most actively traded issues: Pixar, SoftNet Systems and Winstar Communications.

Technology stocks finished mixed Thursday as the Nasdaq composite tacked on 13 points to 3,720.74. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 67 points to 10,413.12.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open about 35 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 4.8 to 1428 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 2 486.29.

Asia

Trading in Asia was moving down. Singapore's Strait Times index fell 0.12 percent to 2,118 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.30 percent to 15,268. The Nikkei 225 was closed.

Europe

European markets were also moving ahead. London's FTSE 100 climbed 0.86 percent to 6,253. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.53 percent to 6,526 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.64 percent to 7,433 at 7:03 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.