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A short war with Iraq should do wonders for American technology firms as US.gov, the world's biggest IT spender, as well as the world's biggest defence contractor, gets stocking, and then restocking.

But corporates are nervous and Wall Street has the jitters. Dan Niles, a star analyst at Lehmans Brothers, reckons that Dell and HP sales for the next quarter will be lower than expected due to (the quotes are from Reuters) "the possibility of war is hurting corporate spending on technology".

To be specific, it's US corporates who are playing wait and see, stunting demand. As a result Niles is lopping revenue estimates for HP and Dell, the US's dominant PC makers. HP will he reckons, pull in $100m less than his previous projection, while Dell will "mute forecasts".

HP shares promptly fell 7 per cent on the publication of the Niles prognosis on Friday January 21, while Dell eased 2 per cent. Both companies report their January 31-ended quarterlies, sometime next month, at which time they will, if necessary, revise their performance guidance. ®

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