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Open Looks Lackluster

Stocks look like they're headed lower this morning. Let's blame it on the

Dow Jones Industrial Average


Who cares about the Dow? It's only got thirty stocks in it. And they don't exactly portray the U.S. industrial landscape. (



? Please!) It doesn't have any


stocks in it. Some Wall Street strategists (

Lehman Brothers'

Jeffrey Applegate is one) don't even bother to make end-of-year Dow predictions, instead using the broader

S&P 500


But when it comes to market psychology, the Dow is king. Yesterday, the index reached 8160, dangerously close to its October 7 high of 8178. Get up there, and it's like saying that things are better than they were before October 27. Never mind that the S&P 500 has been skipping into record territory lately.

"Every trader I know, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is the first thing on his monitor," says Mike Driscoll, block trader at

Hambrecht & Quist

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. "When the Dow hits 8260

beating its all-time high, that's when it's going to make news. That's when a lot of fears are going to ease."

For today, though, stocks are under pressure.

"It looks down about 30," says Driscoll. "I don't think it will turn around as quickly as yesterday, because we have the jobs number on Friday. Still, I think the market is in very good shape."

At 9 a.m. EST, the S&P 500 futures are off 5.50, indicating a bit of a lag at the open.

Despite more indications that the latest economic stimulus plan that Japan's ruling

Liberal Democratic Party

is preparing may be better than expected, Tokyo stocks slipped. After January's run, investors appear unwilling to bid up the market any further -- at least not until that stimulus plan is officially announced (or leaked) later this month. The


fell 140.36.

In Hong Kong, where traders are still a bit dazed by Monday's 14% jump, there was a little profit-taking. The

Hang Seng

slipped 222.90 to close at 10,302.61, with property stocks taking the brunt of the losses.

Despite some dollar strength, futures-led selling brought the German stock market lower. The


fell 45.56 to close at 4486.95.

After five days of record highs, London stocks are taking a little breather. The


is down 31.59 at 5581.20.

The 30-year Treasury bond is off 12/32 at 103 8/32, lifting the yield to 5.89%. Action in the Treasury market will likely be muted until the

Federal Open Market Committee

wraps up its meeting somewhere around 2:15 p.m. The Fed is expected to leave rates unchanged.


(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

will unveil an experimental, super-fast chip that operates three times as fast as the best offering from


(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

, according to

The Wall Street Journal

. Though the chip won't be ready for commercial use for another three years, the news could put a little pressure on the semiconductor manufacturers at the open.



reported fourth-quarter earnings of 87 cents per share, in line with

First Call

consensus estimates.


(CBS) - Get CBS Corporation Class B Report

reported a fourth-quarter loss of a penny per share, in line with expectations.

For a recap of Tuesday's post-close news, click

here .