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Preopen Trading: Lackluster Futures Trade Points to Flat Open

Lucent's SEC trouble inspires selling, while markets abroad are weak on Nokia's downgrade.

The stock market's been a tough place for the better part of the last 12 months, but selling

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

has generally been a consistent winner. That's holding form in preopen trading, as investors are selling the stock after reports that the

Securities and Exchange Commission

was investigating the company's accounting practices.

In preopen action, the stock lost 89 cents to $16, a 5% drop on electronic network

Instinet

, after a

Wall Street Journal

report that the SEC was looking into whether the company improperly booked nearly $700 million in revenue during the 2000 fiscal year. Lucent's stock slid dramatically during the last year after issuing several earnings warnings and dumping CEO Richard McGinn.

Meanwhile, early risers were taking a shine to

Network Appliance

(NTAP) - Get Report

, which beat consensus earnings yesterday. The network storage company earned 11 cents a share, ahead of

First Call/Thomson Financial's

10-cent estimate. However,

sales fell short of expectations, further evidence of slowing in capital expenditures. The stock was lately up $3.56 to $38.75, a 10% gain.

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Equity futures aren't pointing to any particular direction in trading at the open.

S&P 500 futures were lately traded at 1335.40, about two points below

fair value, while the

Nasdaq 100

futures were lately at 2356, down 12 points, and about 12 points below fair value. Fair value is a measure of the correct relationship between equity indices and futures, and helps determine which way stocks are going at the opening bell.

Among the other stocks getting hit are Finnish cellular phone company

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

, which dove overnight after

TheStreet Recommends

UBS Warburg

removed the company from its recommended list in Europe. The

Helsinki General

index, where Nokia has a massive effect on trading, was slammed, lately losing 547.90 to 9498.07. On Instinet, Nokia was down $1.13 to $28.89.

Earnings season is coming to a close in the equity market; this morning, insurer

Cigna

(CI) - Get Report

beat estimates despite a decline in income from continuing operations in the fourth-quarter. Home improvement retailer

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

, meanwhile, said earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 31 would meet expectations for 37 cents a share.

European markets were mostly weak. Paris'

CAC-40

lost 42 to 5731; Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

lost 92 to 6544, and London's

FTSE

was off 47 to 6159.

Japan, meanwhile, still trying to sift through the wreckage of decade-long stagnation, said today it was attempting to find ways to prop up its stock market, a day after the

Nikkei 225

hit a 28-month low. That index rose today, gaining 284.60 to close at 13,422.83, a 2.2% rise. Meanwhile, the

Bank of Japan

, that country's central bank, cut its key interest rate to 0.35% from 0.5%. About two years ago, Japan had a zero-interest rate policy, but began raising rates when the economy showed some signs of recovery.

In Hong Kong, the

Hang Seng

lost 36.12 to close at 15,873.28. To find about the action in other international markets, check our

global indices.

For more on after-hours action, see Thursday's

Night Watch.