(Updated from 9:24 a.m.)

After Friday's gory selloff, the brave and the bullish were scraping the blue-chip

Dow off the floor this morning. But tech stocks were having a tough time getting unstuck.

The

Nasdaq was lately bobbing below the flatline, trading down 17 to 2408. And the

S&P 500 was fractionally higher to 1302. The Dow was up 88 to 10,888.

So far this morning, the big news is good news. Retail giant

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

beat lowered earnings estimates by a penny when it said it made 45 cents a share. And home-improvement leader

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

met also lowered earnings estimates with results of 20 cents a share. Both companies are members of the

blue-chip

Dow Jones Industrial Average.

TheStreet.com

wrote separate stories on

Wal-Mart and

Home Depot's earnings.

Home Depot was gaining 5.8% and Wal-Mart was up 3.4%, pushing retailers higher.

Some negative comments from

Lehman Brothers

this morning on tech-gear makers didn't seem to be doing much damage to investor sentiment. But maybe that's because most of it has been heard before. Lehman this morning reduced its estimates on communications-equipment maker

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

, echoing recent calls by

Merrill Lynch

and

Credit Suisse First Boston

. Lehman also cut estimates on communications-equipment maker

Broadcom

(BRCM)

, and on chipmaker

Applied Micro Circuits

(AMCC)

because of concerns about the optical slowdown. It also had negative views about

PMC-Sierra

(PMCS)

.

Still, many traders seem to think any move up today is just a short-term counteraction to Friday. Stocks spiraled lower at the end of last week on the heels of a bunch of warnings about

further

earnings weakness in coming quarters from major tech companies, including

Nortel Networks

(NT)

,

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

. These stocks are former market darlings, so their bad news stung. They are lower again this morning. Plus, some economic data out last week raised the specter of troublesome inflation.

The market may want a rally, but most folks don't think it will see anything lasting until there's some real improvement in both corporate earnings and the economy -- or at least until the fog lifts and

visibility improves. A bunch of Wall Street's high-tech corporate hot-shots have recently said their crystal balls are getting awfully murky, and they no longer have a clear sense of their future business performance.

So watch for any errant earnings warnings. As the fourth-quarter earnings season winds to a close, companies and investors are looking ahead to first-quarter earnings. A report that came out on Friday from earnings tracker

First Call/Thomson Financial's

Joseph Kalinowski suggested that the unofficial earnings warning season may get off to an early start for the first quarter.

Fourth-quarter earnings season was a real doozy. As the economy slowed, consumer spending and corporate investment have plunged, inventories have ballooned and corporate profits have been squeezed. Plenty of companies even missed already lowered targets for the quarter. Most analysts expect earnings to get worse before they get better, but the question now is how much worse can they get?

Back to top

Bonds/Economy

Treasury prices were falling again this morning after slipping for four successive days, as the money market has been trimming its hopes for an aggressive interest-rate cut next month. The decrease in value was steepest at the long end last week, with the 30-year bond finishing two-thirds of a point lower.

This morning, the benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was down 9/32 to 98 27/32, yielding 5.149%.

Back to top

International

European markets were mixed at their midday. Markets in France and Germany were grinding higher on strength in tech and telecoms -- and in anticipation of an up open on the Nasdaq this morning. Drug companies and banking stocks were lower. Germany's

Xetra Dax

was up 46.62 to 6518.83, while Paris'

CAC-40

gained 30.16 to 5614.91.

But London had lost its footing and slipped into the red, with the

FTSE 100

off 15.40 to 6078.60.

The euro was lately trading at $0.9071.

In a rare turn of events, Tokyo's markets were up overnight. The beleaguered

Nikkei

took home winnings of 28.8 to 13,248.4 after traders shrugged off an unfortunate earnings forecast from

NEC

(NIPNY)

. Chipmakers, which have been destroyed in recent weeks, managed to actually make some gains, something that many said was a sign of a tech bottom. Then again, American markets took a day off Monday and hopeful traders operated without the specter of another American selloff on the horizon. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

gained 36.4 to 15,527.4.

The dollar was trading at 115.41 yen.

Back to top