Tech Stocks Under Pressure

Tech stocks remained under pressure Wednesday as a delay in the release of Microsoft's ( MSFT) next operating system bred uncertainty.

Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading at fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 9-point slide. The 10-year Treasury bond rose 1/32 in price to yield 4.71%, while the dollar was higher against the euro and lower against the yen.

Shares of Microsoft were lower overnight after the software giant moved back the release date of the consumer version of its next version of Windows, the Vista operating system. Amid a shakeup in the unit that produces the product, Microsoft said Vista will hit shelves next January, not before Christmas as previously planned.

Another factor Wednesday could be Nike's ( NKE) guidance, which calls for fourth-quarter revenue growth of 5% to 7% on strong demand in the U.S., but narrower margins due to higher input costs. Shares traded lower late Tuesday.

Oil eased as traders prepared for the Energy Department's weekly storage report, which is expected to show crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week while gasoline stocks fell by 1 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg survey. The newly benchmarked May crude contract was down 21 cents to $62.13 a barrel.

Overseas markets were flat to lower, with London's FTSE 100 recently unchanged at 5993 and Germany's Xetra DAX losing 0.2% to 5901. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell overnight 0.8% to 16,495, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.8% to 15,643.

On Tuesday, stocks gave up early momentum and fell fairly sharply after technical resistance was touched around 1310 on the S&P 500. The Nasdaq Composite bore the brunt of the selling, going from up 0.9% to down 0.9% at 2294 at the close. The Dow shed 0.4% to 11,235, while the S&P 500 fell 0.6% to 1297.

To view David Peltier's video take on today's premarket action, click here .

Wednesday's economic calendar is empty, although investors will see get another glimpse of brokerage strength when Morgan Stanley ( MS) reports its first quarter. The bank is expected to earn $1.20 a share on revenue of $7.58 billion.

In company news, Lucent ( LU) has emerged as the surprise winner in the bidding for bankrupt Riverstone's networking business. Lucent's $207 million cash bid beat out a competing offer from Ericsson ( ERICY).

Bristol-Myers ( BMY) traded higher Tuesday after it and partner Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY) settled a patent lawsuit over its blood-thinner Plavix. A generic drug company in Canada agreed to hold off marketing the multibillion-dollar treatment in the U.S. for five years.

In another pharmaceutical drama, the FDA extended by 90 days the review period for Tysabri, the multiple sclerosis drug sold by Biogen-IDEC ( BIIB) and Elan ( ELN) which was pulled from the market last year amid concerns it was causing a rare brain disease. The FDA wanted more time to assess the companies' risk management plan. An FDA panel recommended earlier this month that Tysabri be allowed to return to the market.

In early research, Bank of America downgraded Juniper ( JNPR) to hold from buy. Citigroup did the same to International Paper ( IP).

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