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(Updated from 11:10 a.m.)

The running of the bulls this morning pushed stocks sharply higher as fears about earnings confession season receded.

On the cusp of first-quarter reporting season, investors were acting like the worst days may be behind them. Out of the starting gate, the bulls gained control of momentum. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average lately was up some 230 points, while the tech-heavy

Nasdaq Composite Index was popping about 102 points. The broader

S&P 500 was climbing 30.2 points.

Jim Volk, co-director of institutional trading at

D.A. Davidson

, offered four reasons for the strong open this morning: "Europe is strong, investors are hoping that first-quarter earnings conference calls will be good, the market is oversold, and it's Easter week," he said.

Behind the gains on the major U.S. stock market indices was good news overseas. After British telecom-equipment maker



failed to issue an earnings warning, as it had been expected, telecom stocks rallied, lifting the major European indices. In recent trading, London's

FTSE 100

advanced 113.1, or 2%, to 5665.4.

After the close of regular trading today,



kicks off the parade of tech earnings announcements. A lot of attention has been focused on Motorola after concerns about a liquidity crisis -- which the company denied -- surfaced last week. The first of the three major mobile-phone makers to report, Motorola has already lowered its estimates for the quarter two times.

On the heels of Marconi's news -- or lack of news -- U.S. telecom stocks were ringing off the hook. Shares of Motorola boosted 12.1% to $12.89,



gained 5.4% to $25.47, and



lifted 7.8% to $6.08.

"People are relieved that the preannouncement season is over," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at

W.R. Hambrecht

. "The belief is that, perhaps, we've seen the worst." Clark said some people might be feeling that the market can perform better without the backdrop of preannouncements. "But that's not much of a catalyst for the market," he added.

There's still plenty of negativity out there about the earnings outlook. Last night, wireless communications company



reported a 26% drop in revenue and forecast a 15% to 20% drop in 2001 revenue. But in the face of the news, the stock was bouncing 13.4% to $16.08.

In very quiet trading yesterday, stocks moved higher. After


raised its first-quarter performance targets yesterday and PC maker



confirmed its first-quarter earnings targets last week, some have begun to think that the earnings disaster could be ending soon. Amazon was lately up 18.3% to $13.21; Dell was rising 7.6% to $26.78.

Along with optimism about earnings, rumors that the

Federal Reserve could

cut interest-rates -- as soon as this week -- have been circling around Wall Street. The chatter began last Friday, with the release of a weak employment report. But some market experts worry that investors will get their hopes up about a rate cut and then sell stocks if they don't get one.

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