The past two sessions have looked like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, featuring an exorbitant body count and such extreme horror that investors were wondering if it all really happened. Of course, the 9.2% fall in the Nasdaq Composite Index over the past two sessions has been a very real experience for portfolios.
For today, at least, markets look like they're putting away the chainsaws.
Stock futures were right around their breakeven numbers, while foreign markets were taking their stage direction from yesterday's stumble here in the States.
S&P 500 futures on
, an electronic exchange where both currency and index futures trade, were up less than a point to 1285.4. They were about 3 points above fair value, a mathematical level that expresses the correct relation between futures and the index that those futures cover.
futures, which track large-cap tech stocks, were off a point to 2129, which is really 27 points above fair value. Signs are positive, then, for the market since fair value is a good gauge of how stocks will trade in early action.
There was no major movement in preopen trading on
, the electronic exchange where investors can get in their trades before the market officially opens.
was slipping on news of its deal with
Procter & Gamble
to jointly develop and market certain beverage and food products.
was gaining on news the telecommunications equipment maker plans to sell an optical fiber unit.
And it looks like stock utures will tread water ahead of the release of the
consumer price index, or CPI, for January. This will give investors a pretty good idea if the
producer price index numbers from last week were on the money or just some fluke. The PPI came in close to four times above Wall Street expectations and pointed to a possible risk of inflation.
Technology concerns have gone global, evidenced in recent backtracking in London's
. Around the middle of the European trading day, those tech woes were apparent. The FTSE was off 18.2 to 5961.9 as the mighty upswing in drug makers was humbled by another day of losses for telecommunications stocks.
stumbled to near two-year-lows. Germany's
slid 95.3 to 6356.3, while Paris'
dropped 74.2 to 5475.6.
And please, just don't look directly at the land of the rising sun. You'll burn your eyes.
has performed so poorly in the last few months that it makes the Nasdaq look like Robert DeNiro in a Scorsese film. Today, reeling in the wake of yesterday's 4% fall in the Comp, the Nikkei dropped 148.28, or 1.1%, to 13,100.08, touching a 28-month closing low. That turns the clock all the way back to Oct. 1998. Fear and loathing reigned supreme as spooked investors stay away from high technology stocks because of profit warnings, general uncertainty and the terror of getting burned -- again.
Meanwhile, across the sea, the Hong Kong
fell 175.85, or 1.1%, to 15,351.51. That's a five-week low for the index, which was still up on the year despite its recent selloffs. Telecommunications stocks were the biggest losers, led by
For Tuesday's postclose trading, see
The Night Watch.