With the day's economic data out of the way, stocks are gearing up to bounce in the early going.

The

Census Bureau

said that core

retail sales, a figure that doesn't include automobile sales, came in well above expectations. Core sales grew 1.4% in March, vs. the 0.5% increase expected by economists polled by

Reuters

. Overall, sales gained 0.4%, double the forecast.

The

Producer Price Index gained 1% overall, double the expected increase. But the core rate, which excludes food and energy prices, gained just 0.1%, in line with expectations.

"We should see some very positive tone this morning," said Bill Meehan, chief market analyst for

Cantor Fitzgerald

. "Even bonds are bouncing back from the stronger-than-expected retail figures, and we saw some strong earnings yesterday."

The bond market initially fell back on the news, but has since recovered. At 9:10 a.m. EDT, the 10-year note was down just 13/32 to 103 21/32, putting the yield at 6.001%.

Stock futures, meanwhile, continue to look strong. The

S&P 500

futures were lately up 8.5, more than a dozen points above fair value and indicating a strong open. The

Nasdaq 100

futures were up 50 points, off their earlier highs but still a decent indication for tech. That may not be much of a consolation for those who saw their holdings pummeled yesterday.

Be careful. Playing a rally on the heels of a day like yesterday is a dangerous game. In the last hour of trading, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

finally took out the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, which dived 1.4%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, closed down 7.1%, off 25.3% on the year.

The economic data certainly aren't cool enough to ease fears of interest-rate hikes. Earnings reports will likely provide the real meat for today's market. Really strong earnings may be the only thing that will stem some of the recent downward tide, as investors continue to look for safety in value vs. growth.

Some big names are set to report

earnings today, key for a number of sectors. Big-cap financial

FleetBoston

(FBF)

and cyclical

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

, as well as tech bellwethers

Gateway

(GTW)

and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

are on today's long earnings reports list.

In Europe, markets had lately lost some ground. In early trading there, techs, telecoms and media took blows from the dive in U.S. markets yesterday. In Paris, the

CAC

was down 8.40 points to 6230.30, while the Frankfurt

Xetra Dax

was down -27.12 to 7415.95. Across the channel, London's

FTSE

was down 0.5 to 6350.3 .

The euro was sitting at $0.9538.

Asian markets

took a tumble on the latest Nasdaq/Dow selloff. Some old bellwethers sustained their fall. Losses were milder than on Wall Street. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index slumped 224.5, or 1.4%, to 16,352.6, while Tokyo's

Nikkei

slipped 306.8 points lower, or 1.5%, to 20,526.4.

Markets in South Korea and Thailand were closed for the day.

The dollar slid gently against the yen overnight, moving to 105.83 yen at Tokyo's close. The greenback has continued down and was lately sitting at 105.93 yen.

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