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Market Is Still in Wait-and-See Mode

Earnings keep on coming in strong, but market could see some light selling.

It is hard to say exactly where the market is headed today.

Futures have sprung off of earlier lows, and

at 9:25 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500 futures

were down 0.7 points, a little more than 1 point below fair value and indicating a flattish open. The

Nasdaq 100

futures were pretty volatile, up 6 points, indicating some light buying pressure at the open.

We may be in for a lot more green today -- as long as we continue to hear good earnings news. Last week, a jittery market quickly responded to equity strategist warnings about tech and bad inflation news, driving the market down into the muck. It seems the market has been just as quick to respond to an overwhelming amount of great, if expected, earnings news this week.

The wave of earnings releases has also served as a compass for investors, allowing them to navigate their way to real value in what continues to be a volatile and choppy market.

But investors are still jumpy and may want to pad their pockets -- just in case. They could draw some gentle profits from the market, some say.

"It looks like its going to be a little sloppy, but on the plus side we've got good earnings from

Intel

,

Lucent

and

IBM

TheStreet Recommends

," said Jim Benning, a trader at

BT Brokerage

.

"We may still see a little profit-taking, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it end on the positive side. I'd be surprised to see it jump 200-300 points, but you never know."

Did the bottom come and go already? Some think yesterday's breadth, which was missing from Monday's session, is a good sign of recovery. Advancers topped declining issues by a better-than 3-to-1 ratio in over-the-counter trading and by nearly 2-to-1 in

Big Board

action. Reflecting that trend, the

Russell 2000

climbed 5.8%.

But most Wall Streeters expect stocks will retest lows again before taking off towards their old highflying haunts.

Today's

earnings slate is as robust as yesterday's. Some of the big names include

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

,

American Home Products

(AHP)

and

Veritas

(VRTS) - Get Virtus Investment Partners, Inc. Report

.

The bond market was edging lower, with the 10-year note down 1/32 to 103 8/32 and yielding 6.055%. Meanwhile, no major data are in the pipeline today.

The large European bourses were up in midsession. Paris and Frankfurt's indices had bounced off earlier lows. The Paris

CAC

was up 29.67 to 6177.1, while Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

was up 13.03 to 7209.52. Across the channel, London's

FTSE

was up 83.6 to 6157.6.

The euro was trading down at $0.9461.

Most

Asian bourses climbed on the

Nasdaq's

second major rally this week. Stocks in Hong Kong mostly rose, with the benchmark

Hang Seng

index up 148.88 points to 15,427.20 at the close.

In Tokyo, despite a bounce in tech and Internet stocks, the

Nikkei

was weighed down by index trading and finished up only 117.10 to 19,086.62.

Dollar-yen trading was pretty quiet overnight and the greenback fetched around 104.87 yen at the close in Tokyo. The dollar had recently edged higher to 104.58.

For a look at stocks in the preopen news, see Stocks to Watch, published separately.