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Preopen Trading: Sluggish Futures Slouch Toward Open

Last night's warning from Union Pacific is expected to hurt the transportation sector today.

(Updated from 7:53 p.m. EST)

The market's looking at an uncertain open today, with perhaps a bit of selling after yesterday's reasonably strong session. Overseas markets were mixed, and the futures contracts indicate a middling open for the market.

Last night's warning from

Union Pacific

(UNP) - Get Union Pacific Corporation Report

, the nation's largest railroad company, is expected to hurt the transportation sector today. The company is expected to cut 2,000 jobs and take a charge of 26 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

Of late,

S&P 500 futures were trading at 1345, down 5.5 points, nearly 1.5 points above fair value, not much of an indication in either direction for the broader index. The

Nasdaq 100

futures, meanwhile, lately traded at 2486.50, about 8 points below fair value, indicating an ever-so-slight downward bias for the open.


(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

was lower in today's preopen trading.

Prudential Securities

has reportedly cut revenue estimates for the PC maker, and shares were lately down $2.69 to $82, or 3.2%, on 5,000


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shares. Other bellwether technology stocks weakened in early action as well.

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

lost $1 to $39.75 on 3,800 shares, and

Lucent Technologies


dropped 56 cents to $13.13, a 4% loss.

American Standard


(they make toilets -- lots of 'em) also issued a warning this morning, saying it would cut its work force by 1,200 nationwide.

Currency trading extended recent trends. The euro strengthened against the dollar as perception of economic strength continues to shift toward Europe, while the Japanese yen dropped to a 16-month low against the greenback, on further concerns of economic weakness in Japan. The euro lately traded at $0.9277, while the dollar/yen was lately at 114.54.

Shares in France were stronger at midsession, while the U.K. and Germany were weaker. Paris'


gained 29.8 to 5887. By contrast, London's


was lately off 11.5 to 6207, and Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

was down by 3.4 to 6325.

Asian stocks were mixed. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

ended the day up 48.19 at 14,796.55, while Tokyo's

Nikkei 225

slipped 34.53 to 13,946.96.

For more on Wednesday's postclose trading, see

The Night Watch.