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MARKET PREVIEW: IBM and Microsoft earnings to make big waves

Tech earnings will take center stage again Monday, as powerhouses IBM and Microsoft show their report cards. Asia and Europe were mixed, and the Dow is set to open flat to slightly lower.

U.S.

Two tech bellwethers, IBM Corp.(NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are both expected to report earnings which top the previous year's quarter.

Microsoft may also be bolstered by recent news it's honing its Internet holdings in preparation for its new tracking stock. It may trade parts of its Sidewalk online guide service, Sidewalk.com, to rival TicketMaster Online Inc. (TCMS), The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. A Connecticut jury also rejected antitrust charges against Microsoft, in a case that has no effect on the Washington suit, but signals a small victory for the company.

The battle for US West Inc. (NYSE: USW) and Frontier Corp. (NYSE:FRO)is finally coming to a close. The fight between two upstart phone companies for has ended in a compromise; Qwest Communications (Nasdaq: QWST) has lured US West away from Global Crossing Ltd. (Nasdaq: GBLX) with a $35.6 billion merger offer. Frontier Corp. will stay with Global Crossing.

In other news, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP) has named Carleton S. Fiorina to its top spot, replacing CEO Lew Platt, who announced plans to retire earlier this year. Fiorina, 44 had served as president of Lucent Technologies' (NYSE: LU) Global Service Provider business.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Monday's most actively traded issues: E*Trade Group Inc. (Nasdaq: EGRP), Informix Corp. (Nasdaq: IFMX), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 23 points to a record close of 11,209.84 while the Nasdaq, bolstered by strong gains from Microsoft, gained 25 points to 2,864.50, also a record high.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may inch about 9 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was down 1.1 points to 1426 at 7:15 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 1.01 to 321.09.

Asia

Trading in Asia was mixed. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.56 percent to 18,532. Singapore's Strait Times index lost 0.60 percent to 2,121 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.72 percent to 13,447.

Europe

European markets were also mixed. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.56 percent to 6,600. The CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.02 percent to 4,655 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.40 percent to 5,642 at 6:50 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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