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Everybody on Wall Street knew that one of two things was going to happen this morning.

The bell would ring and everything would be called down massively, continuing

Friday's rout, which would mean it was time to step in and buy. Or stocks would run higher at the open -- an idiot bounce -- and it would be time to sell.

But neither of those things happened, and now the Street is stuck in a morass of doubt, where nobody has any conviction on where the market is headed, and nobody wants to do a damn thing.

"Sitting on our hands," is how Sam Ginzburg,


senior managing director of equity trading, put it. "It's quiet, the phones are quiet. All we have right now for trades are real short-term -- sometimes 10 seconds."

The open was one of the most confusing in recent memory. Stock index futures fluctuated wildly in the overnight


electronic trading session. After being down as much as 24 points, the

S&P 500 futures managed to briefly trade higher, before dipping a bit below the flat line ahead of the open. The

Nasdaq 100

futures whipped wildly, swinging over 150 points. They started out the Chicago session to the downside, but quickly turned.

"There was pretty good two-way flow early on, and then the Nasdaq futures took off," said Brad Benshop, equity futures trader for

J.P. Morgan Futures

. "I don't have a sense if it was short covering or real money. I guess my gut sense is that it was real money."

But Benshop doesn't see a whole lot of belief behind that buying. "This time around is different than all the previous dips," he said. "Confidence has been shaken."

That lack of confidence may mean that the market has further work to do on the downside, said

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

technical strategist Phil Roth. When investors see that stocks have not made a V-shaped bottom, that it is not off to the races again, they will become disheartened. So far, thinks Roth, there hasn't been any of the real fear that chartists like him like to see before they call a big selloff over.

"Clearly, complacency is being shaken out, but we're not seeing the capitulation you see on a good bottom," he said. "The real pessimism comes in when the market fails to rally."

Roth reckons that it will take a couple of weeks for that to happen, and that once the final selloff sets in, the average stock will go down much less than the glamour stocks that until last month were blowing the doors off the market. "I think the bubble's burst in the speculative favorites of 1998 and 1999, and it will take some time to clear the air," he said.

For Ginzburg, too, the market looks fragile here. He reckons the only thing keeping the market up here is a hope that earnings reports, which will begin coming out in earnest tomorrow, will somehow save the day. Let's hope so.

"If earnings come out good and they sell them off on the earnings," he said, "see you later."


Dow Jones Industrial Average

lately was off 55, or 0.5%, to 10,251, having traded as high as 10,462.13. The S&P 500, which had also been in the green earlier, was down 9, or 0.7%, to 1347.


Nasdaq Composite Index

also slipped into negative territory, and lately was down 34, or 1%, to 3287. It traded as high as 3454.70 earlier. Internet Sector

index was off 29, or 4.1%, to 685.

Market Internals

New York Stock Exchange:

857 advancers, 2,034 decliners, 639 million shares. 7 new 52-week highs, 113 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market:

1,250 advancers, 2,887 decliners, 1.36 billion shares. 5 new highs, 512 new lows.

For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Movers, published separately.