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Microprocessor giant Intel (INTC) was up 2.3% in preopen Island trading after its CEO Thursday reaffirmed plans for $7.5 billion in capital expenditures in 2001 as well as $4.2 billion in R&D.

The company also said its Pentium 4 processor is on track for a third-quarter release, and added that it expects a upturn in sales in the second half of the year. This morning,

Merrill Lynch

reiterated its neutral rating on the stock and said it hear nothing to indicate a substantive recovery was in the works.