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Preopen Trading: Stocks Set for Lackluster Start

But IBM's a winner. It's up more than 6% in before-the-bell action on strong earnings that pleased weary tech investors.

There were earnings announcements

galore last night with a slew of mostly better-than-expected earnings. Still, stock futures weren't celebrating this morning because many of those "positive" earnings actually were just beating lowered performance estimates or were tempered by dismal forecasts for future earnings.

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Early on, futures indicated a flat to slightly negative opening for the major stock markets. The

S&P 500 futures on


lately were off 0.2 to 1342, about 3 points below

fair value as calculated by

Prudential Securities

. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

futures, which essentially track large-cap tech stocks, were down 2.50 to 2579.00, about 3 points below fair value as calculated by

. Fair value is a good gauge of how stocks will trade in early action.

Big Blue was getting the blue ribbon in preopen trading.


(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report

yesterday after the close posted earnings for the fourth quarter that were 2 cents above estimates, and it was being duly rewarded. It was recently jumping $6.06, or 6.3%, to $102.75 on


TheStreet Recommends

, the electronic brokerage where investors can get in their trades before the bell. Earlier this morning, the stock had been up more than $9.

last night took a close look at

IBM's performance.

Europe's major indices were trudging along with no clear direction this morning. France's


was off 0.19%, Germany's

Xetra Dax

was down 0.7% and the U.K.'s

FTSE 100

was gaining 0.1%. Major Asian markets rallied, with Japan's battered

Nikkei 225

jumping 1.5% overnight and Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

rising 1.8%.

For more on world markets, check out's

global indices information.

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