Thursday: AOL Reports Today

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After yesterday afternoon's sell-off, traders began the day showing flickers of optimism.

"I would imagine we get a bounce back today," said one trader, although he admitted that he thought the open would be "mixed to a little sloppy."

While many are blaming analyst cuts of

Intel

(INTC:Nasdaq) for yesterday's tech sell-off, traders found that explanation a little simple. "I don't know what got this going yesterday," explained one trader. "What really set it off is beyond me."

Initial Jobless Claims

for the week ended February 1 came in at 325,000. Analysts had expected that number at 345,000.

S&P 500 Futures are up 0.1. The benchmark 30 year Treasury bond is lower at just over 96 1/2, driving the yield up 0.01% to 6.76.

America Online

(AOL:NYSE) is expected to report a quarterly loss of 55 cents per share today, according to

First Call

. The Internet provider had another outage last night, which somehow seems to reduce the effectiveness of those new ads on CNBC with the sincere Steve Case talking about AOL's commitment to the customer. Is he still going out with AOL's head of public relations?

Dole

(DOL:NYSE) posted fourth quarter earnings of 22 cents per share, three cents higher than First Call expectations.

Manpower

(MAN:NYSE) reported fourth quarter earnings of 58 cents per share, seven cents above First Call estimates.

Medaphis

(MEDA:Nasdaq) reported a quarterly loss of 34 cents per share, well below First Call's estimated penny per share loss.

Banking worries and a weak yen continue to affect the Tokyo markets. The Nikkei closed down 147.54 at 18,038.43.

Sony

reported that profits doubled for the quarter ended in December (helped along by a strong dollar) and bucked the trend. Semiconductor stocks were among the losers -- even

NEC

, which says that it has developed a four gigabit DRAM chip.

Say a prayer for Bess -- it's Accession Day in Britain. The old girl isn't giving traders a break though: the markets are open. Rates were left unchanged in yesterday's U.K. monetary policy meeting, and nobody thinks that there will be a rate rise until after the general elections -- good news, one would think. But stocks aren't doing so well, taking their queues from Wall Street's losses yesterday rather than the firm gilts market. The FTSE is at 4264.39, down 17.10.

Vodaphone

(VOD:NYSE) takeover rumors are making the rounds once again, but this time they center on an unknown German buyer, rather than

AT&T

(T:NYSE). In Frankfurt, stocks got over an early case of nerves and broke through 3100 to close at a record 3104.13, up 6.13.

By Justin Lahart

jlahart@thestreet.com