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Tech Industry

MARKET PREVIEW: Techs eye economic data and earnings

Economic news and a flood of earnings leftovers will keep techs occupied Thursday. Asian markets slipped while Europe moved up, and the Dow is set to open flat.

U.S.

Ears will be perked for hints of what the Fed plans do to with interest rates during chairman Alan Greenspan's speech to a bankers group in Chicago just as the markets open. Many economists are now suggesting the Federal Reserve is eyeing a half-percentage point rise.

Other economic news Thursday includes data on April sales from major retailers. Many retail stocks were hurt Wednesday by a Goldman Sachs downgrade of 13 leading retailers. The Commerce Department will also report first-quarter productivity, which is expected to have improved 3.5 percent in the quarter.

Investors are also awaiting a report on April employment data due Friday.

Though most of the leading tech companies have shown their quarterly scorecards, the earnings rush continues with AirGate PCS (Nasdaq: PCSA), Cybex Computer (Nasdaq: CBXC), Intermedia Communications (Nasdaq: ICIX), Magic Software (Nasdaq: MGIC), Sonic Foundry (Nasdaq: SOFO), Talk.com (Nasdaq: TALK) and Winstar Communications (Nasdaq: WCII) set to report Thursday.

The latest twist in Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) antitust trial will draw attention to the stock again; Microsoft reportedly may ask a federal judge to throw out the Justice Department's break-up plan on the basis that the proposal was based on evidence that wasn't presented at the trial.

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Homestore.com, High Speed Access, Jupiter Communications and Peapod.

Investors didn't discriminate in their selling Wednesday as shares of blue-chip and technology stocks tumbled in a broad-based sell-off. The Nasdaq composite closed off 78 points to 3,707.32 while the Dow plunged 251 points to 10,480.13.

At the Bell

The Dow Jones industrial average may open 24 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 3.4 to 1425 at 7:31 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was down 11 to 488.60.

Asia

Asian markets slipped. Singapore's Strait Times index fell 1.14 percent to 2,120 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1.69 percent to 15,314. The Nikkei 225 was closed.

Europe

European markets were mixed. London's FTSE 100 climbed 0.07 percent to 6,189. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.34 percent to 6,457 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.10 percent to 7,369 at 7:03 a.m. EST.

Reuters contributed to this report.