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Is the bloodletting over yet?

Preopen trading on electronic brokerage


was indicating that investors were easing a bit on selling, with


(MSFT) - Get Free Report




among others regaining some of what they've lost in the past couple days.

Oil company

Amerada Hess

(AHC) - Get Free Report

was lately the most actively traded stock after it was outbid by Italy's


(E) - Get Free Report

on buying Britain's



. Investors rewarded Amerada by pushing it up $1.69 to $64.50 on about 277,100 shares.

BP Amoco

(BP) - Get Free Report

was riding Amerada's wave and was up $1.75 to $47.38 on 67,900 shares.


(T) - Get Free Report

was falling on its

fourth warning this year. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree; AT&T spinoff


(LU) - Get Free Report

warned its first-quarter loss would be larger than expected. AT&T was down $1.13 to $17.81 and Lucent $1.50 lower to $14.

Even though



beat estimates, it was getting roughed up this morning on news that it expects sales in the third quarter to slide a bit. The stock lately was down $4.38 to $33.75.

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Futures were showing some optimism, indicating a flat to positive opening. The

S&P 500 futures on Globex lately were up 6 to 1285, about 5 points above fair value as calculated by Prudential Securities. The thinly traded Nasdaq 100 futures were up 7 to 2282, about 38 points above fair value as calculated by


Europe's major indices were steadily falling, with France's


off 0.3%, Germany's

Xetra Dax

down 0.4% and the U.K.'s

FTSE 100

0.5% lower. Asian markets responded to the plunging American markets by plummeting themselves. Japan's

Nikkei 225

fell 3.5% overnight (its worst level in two years), while Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

dropped 1.8%.

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