The market is expected to slip at the opening bell as investors remain insecure, viewing the current environment pessimistically. However,

America Online

(AOL)

was benefiting from news reports suggesting the

Federal Communications Commission

could give its approval to the proposed merger between AOL and

Time Warner

(TWX)

as early as today.

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Lately both the

S&P 500 futures and the

Nasdaq 100

futures were trending lower, indicating a soft open for the stock market. The S&P 500 futures were down 8.9 points to 1300.60, nearly 10 points below fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 futures traded at 2280, down 46 points, or 55 points below fair value.

The

Wall Street Journal

reported this morning that the FCC could approve the America Online/Time Warner transaction by today, although there remain a few hurdles for the companies. AOL was up 6.9%, gaining $2.77 to $42.80, making it the strongest gainer in terms of percentage in preopen trading. Just 6,500 shares had changed hands on

Instinet

.

Earnings season is beginning to heat up, with Internet bellwether

Yahoo!

TheStreet Recommends

(YHOO)

expected to report earnings following the close of trading today. Yahoo! was down 31 cents to $29.81 in preopen trading, according to Instinet.

The most active stock in preopen action was

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Nokia Oyj Sponsored ADR Report

, which continued to lose ground after the company's handset sales

disappointed analysts yesterday. The stock was down $1.44 to $37.75 on 24,500 Instinet shares. The day's biggest loser so far was

Ariba

(ARBA)

, lately down $4.50 to $32.44, a 12% loss, on no news. However, just 1,000 shares had traded in the stock.

European markets were hurt overnight. In France, the

CAC-40

was lately down 38.23 to 5624.96; Germany's

Xetra Dax

tumbled 103.87 to 6300.65; and in the United Kingdom, the

FTSE 100

fell 25.8 to 6062.3. Major Asian markets had a poor day. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

dropped 64.80 to close at 15,435.79, while Japan's

Nikkei 225

lost 177.86 to finish at 13,432.65.

For Tuesday's postclose trading, see The Night Watch.