To say that this week has been sort of up and down might be an understatement.

Yesterday, the stock market bounced back a little from Tuesday's battering. While most of the major indices slipped off their highs by the end of trading yesterday, it was just encouraging to see things end on the plus side.

This morning, though, stocks were not getting a lot of help from futures trading. The

S&P 500

March futures contract was recently quoted at -1.20 -- slightly below fair value of 1.75 -- to 1365. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

March contract was recently quoted down 24.5 to 4433.

In Germany this morning, officials at

Deutsche Bank

and

Dresdner Bank

announced their merger, creating a $1.5 trillion bank, the largest in the world. The terms of the merger were also announced. But, they were all speaking German, so who knows what they were saying.

Not a lot to trade on before the bell this morning. There are few earnings today and tomorrow, with food retailer

Kroger

(KR) - Get Report

and

National Semiconductor

(NSM)

both scheduled to report their quarterly results today.

Also, the skiing vacation/tech jamboree at Snowbird, Utah ends today. Good thing, too. With the weekend right around the corner, these guys need a break. But don't worry, there's only a half-day of presentations today, so there will be plenty of time to hit the slopes during the afternoon. Scheduled to present this morning are companies including

E.piphany

(EPNY)

and

Engage

(ENGA)

.

Last Night's After-Hours Trading

By David A. Gaffen
Staff Reporter

Employee Solutions

(ESOL)

may have to look for one itself. The company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.18 a share, widening from the previous year's 44-cent loss, after the close today. Losses in 1999 were $1.55, compared with a loss of 88 cents in 1998.

If that wasn't enough, a

Reuters

headline said auditors are going to issue a "going concern modification," which, while not exactly detailed or grammatically correct (except perhaps to auditors), is certainly ominous sounding.

The stock, which was briefly halted during after-hours trading, was down 21/32 to 1 7/32 on 635,000 Island shares.

PictureTel

(PCTL)

, PictureTel, lots of fun with PictureTel.

The multimedia collaboration company was chosen by

TheStreet Recommends

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

to provide a pan-Europe, Middle East and Africa videoconferencing service, for the purposes of cutting business travel.

Investors were happy -- the stock rose 4 1/8 to 14 11/16 on 622,000 Island shares.

"Using PictureTel's conference services means that we can concentrate fully on the meeting content, rather than the technology,'' said Peter Atkins, IBM's conferencing services manager.

It will also make it easier for people to moon one another from one continent to the next, but Atkins did not discuss the technology's potential in that regard.

Red, split, hut.

Redback Networks

(RBAK)

announced postclose that it had completed its $4.3 billion merger with

Siara Systems

, and also set a 2-for-1 stock split, effective March 20. The stock, which closed down 4% to 327 11/16, was up 12 9/16, or 3.8%, to 340 1/4, on 1,400 MarketXT shares.

The company will retain the name Redback Networks (sayonara, Siara).

Traders were celebrating

Value America

(VUSA)

, which announced a fourth-quarter loss of 91 cents a share, excluding one-time events. The

First Call/Thomson Financial

survey of four analysts was expecting a loss of $1.02.

Shares soared 1 7/8 to 6 15/16 on 1.75 million Island shares.

No, not Mynocks -- those things that clung to the Millennium Falcon.

Nymox Pharmaceutical

(NYMX) - Get Report

, said today that it had finalized the acquisition of

Serex

, a private company based in New Jersey.

Nymox, which specializes in developing treatments for Alzheimer's disease, is buying Serex, a biotechnology company, through an exchange of shares. Nymox, which closed up 2 to 9 15/16, lately was traded at 10 on 290,000 Island shares.

Sherman. Grant. Tso. Magic. Generals all. Only the last,

General Magic

(GMGC)

, is seeing its shares tank in nighttime trading, after the company reported a loss of 55 cents a share for the fourth quarter.

That's compared with a fourth-quarter 1998 loss of 50 cents. The stock fell 1 5/8, or 12.3%, to 11 1/2 on 1,600 MarketXT shares.

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.