Corporate demand for technology may be pinched by dramatically higher energy costs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina but the eventual rebuilding of New Orleans could take up some of the slack.

Companies are expected to have to dig even deeper to pay for energy — from gasoline to heating oil to airline fuel — in coming months after Katrina shut more than 90 percent of daily crude oil production from the U.S. Gulf Coast, normally the source of about a quarter of U.S. oil output..

“Every buck that they are forced to spend elsewhere is that much less money (spent) on other issues,” said Barry Ritholtz, chief market strategist at the Maxim Group. “With technology it may not fall dollar-for-dollar, but you have to think that it’s going to pinch a little bit.”

Experts said the higher costs could force companies to delay signing contracts for software, medical equipment or networking hardware, and could make some firms choose between installing new systems and hiring staff.

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