There's a mixed preopen picture this morning, with traders holding off on big directional bets ahead of the 8:30 a.m. EST release of February retail sales data.

The

S&P 500 futures

on

Globex

lately were up 2.6 to 1404.1, about a point above fair value. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

futures were up 24.5 to 4547. Neither indicates anything in particular about the open, given the way things might change after the data release.

There was modest weakness in Asia, extending on

Monday's selloff. Japan's

Nikkei 225

lost 0.3% and Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

fell 1% (see today's

Asian Markets Update for more). There was no clear direction at midsession in Europe, with Germany's

Xetra Dax

and France's

CAC 40

both nearly unchanged while the U.K.'s

FTSE

was up 0.5%.

America Online

(AOL)

was up 1/4 to 61 5/8 in preopen

Instinet

trading on news of its marketing alliance with

Sears

(S) - Get Report

. Sears hadn't traded.

Last Night's After-Hours Trading

By TSC Staff

Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

.

MarketXT, formerly Eclipse Trading, offers after-hours trading to retail clients of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's (MWD) Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Online, Mellon Bank's (MEL) Dreyfus Brokerage Services and clients of Salomon Smith Barney. It is also available to clients of Mydiscountbroker.com, CyBerCorp and Interactive Brokers. Clients can trade 200 of the most actively traded New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market issues, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday.

Confused?

TheStreet.com

explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.