The market opened sharply down this morning. Futures have been see-sawing through the red after falling off of initial flatness. A lack of economic news ahead of next week's interest rate decision should keep investors scrambling for footing, while bad news on



and weakness in


(CSCO) - Get Report

before the open may put a crimp in technology.

At 9:22 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500 futures

were down 9.3 points, almost 9 points below fair value and indicating some selling pressure at the open. The

Nasdaq 100

futures had plunged down 53.7 points, indicating a selloff at the open.

Wireless firm Motorola should receive some blows this morning after

Salomon Smith Barney

downgraded the company, saying it was not going to be able to meet projected growth.

Meanwhile, tech network king Cisco was taking futures down in preopen trading, having reported strong earnings and revenues after last night's close.

"Cisco is trading down before the bell on worries that the earnings picture going forward might be drastically different, especially if there is a slowdown in PC demand," said Phil Ruffat, vice president of

Fuji Futures

in Chicago.

"There was a big hedge fund that started selling slowly this morning. I think he's pushed the market down, got a lot of people scared. Futures might sink down to the 3300 level this morning," Ruffat said.

Cisco, with one of the highest market capitalizations in the world, reported accelerating revenue growth and earnings above street estimates for the ninth consecutive quarter. Concerns over the company's valuation made an ugly dent in the

Nasdaq Composite Index

Monday and put pressure on tech Tuesday ahead of the earnings report.

Cisco industry mates, including




Nortel Networks





, could move on that news as well.

Meanwhile, there are


some more big earnings reports to consider

today, including

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report



(UN) - Get Report

, among others. Unilever earnings just came in ahead of street estimates.

Most investors don't want to dive headlong into this kind of a market yet. With volume wallowing at year lows and sapping liquidity, stock moves are pretty unpredictable. There is some talk that such pathetic volume, which has plagued the market for the past three weeks, could be a sign of more than just jitters and caution ahead of next week's rate decision. It might mean that the market is dancing on the edges of dreaded bear territory. For more on this, see David Gaffen's recent


And, of course, rate hikes still loom. After weeks of hot data, most market observers think that a 50-basis point hike at the


May 16 meeting is certain. April import-export earnings, retail sales and the

Producer Price Index

will be released on Thursday and Friday and, while these numbers are unlikely to change many minds, the market may still be clinging to that hope. And no one really knows what to expect from the Fed during the remainder of the year.

"We're in an information void and we need the catalyst of the Fed's action for things to stabilize. I think people aren't at work to buy they're at work to sell. Not a whole lot of people are going to throw money at the market until this stuff is resolved," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at

W.R. Hambrecht


Meanwhile, another tech mammoth may send a ripple through the market late today.


(MSFT) - Get Report

is scheduled to submit a remedy plan today, after the government announced two weeks ago that it wants to split up the company. Microsoft could offer some of the same solutions it mentioned in earlier negotiations with the government, like opening up pricing and offering to remove Internet Explorer from future Windows applications.

And the

New York Stock Exchange

is talking of teaming up with bourses in Canada, Europe and Latin America, though nothing's been settled yet. Last week, Nasdaq announced plans to get together with London and Frankfurt exchanges.

The bond market was bouncing off of earlier weakness this morning, with the 10-year note up 5/32 to 99 31/32 and yielding 6.503%.

The large European bourses were

mixed near midsession. Paris and Frankfurt bourses were listlessly lower on media and telecom sector losses and fears of aggressive rate hikes in the U.S., with the Paris


down 61.47 to 6308.14 and Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

off 100.77 to 7179.77.

Across the Channel, London's


was falling off of earlier strength from drug, bank and other stocks as U.S. futures weakened. The FTSE was up just 1.5 to 6125.3.

The euro was trading up at $0.9108.

The majority of

Asian markets slipped lower overnight on renewed Nasdaq losses and fears of more aggressive interest rate tightening in the U.S.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index fell 283.98 points, or 1.9%, to 14,492.92.

Tokyo stocks fell to a new six-month intraday low after recent data showed that foreign investors sold off a net 846.27 billion yen ($7.8 billion) worth of Japanese stocks last month, a reversal from net purchases in March. But the


was able to recover some of that ground by the close, ending down 143.07 points to 17,701.

Euro gains against both the yen and the dollar overnight boosted the greenback up against the yen to 109.42. The greenback was lately losing some of that strength at 109.05 yen.

For a look at stocks in the news, see

Stocks to Watch , published separately.