If the market were a children's book, it'd have to be named

The Little Engine That Sucks

. An early, brief (very brief) bounce gave way to more broad selling pressure. Yesterday's earnings warning from

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

has computer makers under pressure. Semiconductors are dying on the vine after a sharp selloff in

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

shares following that company's positive earnings release.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index and

Dow Jones Industrial Average spent minimal amount of time in the green this morning before both slipped into the red. Lately, however, they've come off their lows, as a number of technology stocks, including

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

, have worked their way back near unchanged.

If the parade of earnings warnings from high-profile companies continues, that visit to the bottom could happen soon.

Dell

became the latest company to join the lineup of techs warning about a shortfall in earnings.

Dell was lately down 8.7% after saying last night that slower sales growth could dent profits. Other box makers were feeling the pain, with

Gateway

(GTW)

sliding 5.5% and

Compaq

(CPQ)

off 10.8%.

Even the stocks with positive news are getting soaked. Take Micron Technology, which handily beat fourth-quarter estimates last night. Today

ABN Amro

cut its price target and

UBS Warburg

lowered earnings estimates on the company. Investors are apparently considering the fact that spot DRAM (dynamic random access memory) prices, which Micron produces, fell sharply in September -- Micron's quarter ended in August.

Lehman Brothers

and

Sanford Bernstein

stood by their ratings and price targets, but investors were only focusing on the bad news. Micron was lately off 10.7%, along with more modest weakness in the chip sector.

TheStreet Recommends

Nextel Communications'

(NXTL)

shares were whacked after the company disclosed that third-quarter subscriber growth was less than Wall Street expected. Lately the shares were sliding 10.6%.

The Dow was a mixed bag today with some defensive issues such as

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

and

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

showing strength. The consumer products sector got a boost from an upgrade by

Merrill Lynch

analyst Heather Murren on several bellwether stocks.

Sector Watch

Retail stocks were near unchanged after several disappointing same-store sales reports from companies including

Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

and

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

. The

S&P Retail Index

was lately down 0.1%.

Oil and gas stocks were under pressure after a dip in oil prices when U.S. energy firms snapped up the national reserves offered by the government. The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was down 1.3%, while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was off 1.8%.

Back to top

Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are little changed on little news on the day before the release of the September

employment report, the most important economic report to roll around each month.

There are no major economic reports today, although the

Federal Open Market Committee just released the

minutes of its Aug. 22 meeting.

At its most recent meeting on Tuesday, the FOMC

cited the still-high level of labor-force utilization -- aka low unemployment rates -- as its main reason for maintaining its aggressive posture on interest rates.

The employment report will provide the latest readings on unemployment, with possible implications for monetary policy. In August, the regular unemployment rate stood at 4.1% and the

augmented unemployment rate -- the measure preferred by the Fed -- stood at 6.9%.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 3/32 to 99, yielding 5.884%.