Wall Street and the rest of America hold their breath for a key ruling in the Presidential election Friday, while semiconductors hope to rebound. Asian and European markets were all down, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.
Investors will be eyeing a ruling from a Florida judge which will decide on the admissibility of hand-counted ballots in as many as three counties. The Nasdaq dropped nearly 4 percent yesterday and many analyst have fingered the political uncertainty as a contributing factor.
Communication chipmakers were roughed up Thursday after Merrill Lynch analyst Joseph Osha downgraded a batch of stocks from near-term "buy" ratings to near-term "accumulate." In yesterday's session, PMC-Sierra (PMCS) shed $18.13 to $113. Applied Micro Circuits (AMCC) dropped $10.06 to $60.94 while Broadcom (BRCM) and Vitesse (VTSS) closed off $25.19 and $4.94 a share, respectively.
The U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) number, released before the bell yesterday, rose a modest 0.2 percent after a 0.5 percent gain in September. Core CPI, which takes out volatile food and energy prices, also rose by 0.2 percent, less than the 0.3 percent hike in September.
VA Linux (Nasdaq: LNUX)shares were active in after-hour trading Thursday and should see action in the Friday session. The company met analysts' reduced estimates in its first quarter but still posted a loss of $7 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $56.1 million.
Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Agile Software (Nasdaq: AGIL), Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK), Serena Software (Nasdaq: SRNA) and VA Linux Systems (Nasdaq: LNUX).
Tech stocks posted a triple-digit loss Thursday as the Nasdaq composite dropped 133.61 to 3,031.88. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the session off 51.57 to 10,656.03.
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to open up 17 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for November futures contracts rose 2.2 to 1381.50 at 7:19 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.
The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index fell 20 to 385.29.
Asian markets were all down. The Nikkei 225 lost 42.73 to 14544.30, Singapore's Strait Times index shed 22.8 to 1953.54 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 117.5 to 15180.85.
The story was the same in European markets. London's FTSE 100 fell 2.3 to 6428.10 and the CAC 40 in Paris was off 38.58 to 6244.48. The DAX in Frankfurt continued its slide, falling triple digits, 132.88 to 6709.23, at 7:11 am EST.
Reuters contributed to this report.