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Stocks Set to Bounce, Again

But yesterday's biotech debacle has rattled some nerves on Wall Street; meanwhile, eBay and Oracle are both soaring on Instinet.

The Ides of March be damned. Stocks are going to give this whole snapback rally thing another shot this morning.

At 8:05 a.m. EST, the

S&P 500

futures were up 4, nearly 7 points above fair value and indicating some good strength for the broad large-cap market. The

Nasdaq 100

futures were up 47.95 points, pointing toward a good early rally in tech.

Remember that that's how things looked yesterday morning before biotech took everything apart. Betting against the market's opening direction has been a profitable enterprise of late.

"I think we're going to be in the minus column," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at

IJL Wachovia

in Atlanta. "At least at the outset, I think we'll give it all up. I hope I'm wrong."

Investors have heard all about momentum by now. They've heard it named as the primary agent of last fall's rally in the

Nasdaq Composite Index

. They've seen it take stocks to incredible heights, and they've seen it reverse in a flash.

But what investors hadn't seen until biotech's implosion yesterday was a massive sector-wide reversal based almost purely on momentum. Bullish analysts and money managers long the damaged stocks have been quick to point out that the selling was overblown, that the joint statement issued yesterday by

President Clinton

and U.K. Prime Minister

Tony Blair

about democratizing gene-sequencing data revealed nothing new to the industry. That is, however, precisely the point. Momentum moves are by their very nature overblown, whichever way they happen to be blowing from day to day.

Yesterday certainly exacerbated existing fears about the stability of some of the "new tech" groups that have seen upside explosions similar to biotech's. A contrarian, of course, would find such fear encouraging. Fear, they say, is the stuff on which gains are built. And the New Economy has a couple of things going for it this morning besides a big selloff from which to rebound. There's last night's

report of possible combination talks between

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

, and

Oracle's

(ORCL) - Get Report

blowout earnings

numbers.

Oracle was trading at 86 on

Instinet

TheStreet Recommends

, way up from a close of 77, while eBay was trading at 220 from a close of 211. Yahoo! was sitting at 166, down 2 3/4 of a point.

Some of the biotech stocks that got hit heavily yesterday were catching bids in the premarket, with

Protein Design Laboratories

trading at 202 1/2, up from a close of 195. But

Celera Genomics

(CRA)

was falling further, last traded at 149 after closing at 154.

The bond market was easing modestly, with the 10-year note up 6/32 to 101 10/32 and yielding 6.319%.

Whatever strength U.S. stocks will muster will have to come despite heavy selling on the European bourses. Early in afternoon trade, London's

FTSE

was off 57.8, or 0.9%, to 6429.3, while the Paris

CAC

was down 151.69, or 2.4%, or 6198.66. Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

was 149.76 lower, or 2%, to 7500.29.

The euro was trading at $0.9674.

Asian markets moved lower in the wake of yesterday's Wall Street selloff.

Tokyo stocks suffered rather modest losses, with the

Nikkei

shedding 48.09 to 19,141.84.

Currency trading witnessed another round of intervention by the

Bank of Japan

. The BOJ bought dollars and sold yen, helping the greenback move up from a session low of 104.75 yen to as high as 106.25 yen. The dollar has since retreated a bit, lately sitting at 105.42 yen.

In Hong Kong, the

Hang Seng

fell 181.96, or 1.1%, to 16,747.20.

Taiwan's

TWSE

index sank 195.55, or 2.2%, to 8640.03, while South Korea's

Kospi

closed down 9.21, or 1.1%, to 837.53.

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