Out with the old, in with the new.

Tech investors looking for a relief rally got a break this morning. But even after yesterday's

market meltdown, Wall Street experts are not convinced that stocks have hit bottom.

On the heels of yesterday's 436-point loss on the

Dow Jones Industrial Average, the index -- which briefly clawed into positive territory this morning -- was lately pitted firmly below the flatline. As investors rotated out of defensive stocks and into tech issues, shares of

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

were the biggest drags on the

blue-chip measure this afternoon.

But while every Dow stock closed down yesterday,

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

,

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

,

J.P. Morgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

and

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

were moving higher in recent trading.

For Warren Epstein, head trader at

Richard A. Rosenblatt

, today's losses on the Dow do not come as much of a surprise. "The market is very skittish," he said. "Blue-chip stocks remain vulnerable to a selloff."

The

Nasdaq Composite Index, which closed below 2000 yesterday for the first time since December 1998, was lately gaining. Groups on the upswing included the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

-- up 2.6%, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

-- ahead 2.7%, and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index --higher by 1.3%.

Beware the Bounce of March!

In the face of today's tech gains, market gurus are advising that investors beware a sucker's rally (an early Ides of March, perhaps?), because there aren't any catalysts for a sustainable upturn. "We are way oversold here, but the problem with yesterday's selloff is that there was no real volume -- not enough to convince anyone we've seen a real bottom in here," said Ray Hawkins, vice president of block trading at

J.P. Morgan Chase

.

As if the headlines from

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

could get any worse. Just days after it set plans to slash up to 17% of its workforce, the networking giant

said it remains doubtful about its future.

"We are not seeing a turnaround," CEO John Chambers said this morning at the

Merrill Lynch

Global Investor conference in New York. Six weeks into the networking giant's fiscal third quarter, Chambers said, "We see the same slow growth we saw in January." Despite the comments, Cisco was up 6.6% to $20 -- though its bad news was one of the catalysts for yesterday's plunge.

Elsewhere,

Motorola

(MOT)

said it's cutting 7,000 jobs in its cell-phone unit and taking a charge on its first and second-quarter results. Motorola shares were fractionally lower at $14.91. Just yesterday, rival

Ericsson

(ERICY)

-- off 0.5% to $6.25 today, said it would report a loss instead of a profit for its upcoming fiscal first quarter.

The fact that some tech companies are bouncing off of bad news today gives Wall Street pros some incentive to be optimistic. "Arguably, we're closer to a bottom than we are to a top," said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at

Jefferies

. "We're more than 60% off the Nasdaq's all-time-high."

In economic news, the

retail sales report for February, released this morning, confirmed that consumers curbed their spending significantly last month. Sales were much lower than economists had been expecting. The data help make the case for aggressive rate cuts to get the economy back on its feet. Indeed the

fed fund futures contract, a good proxy for monetary policy, has fully priced in a 50 basis-point ease in the

fed funds rate at the

Federal Reserve's upcoming meeting on March 20.

On the mergers and acquisitions front, mobile-phone maker

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

-- 2.5% to $21.98, announced it was selling two plants to contract manufacturer

SCI Systems

(SCI) - Get Report

-- higher by 3.1% to $16.50. And diversified conglomerate

Tyco

(TYC)

-- lower by 11.1% to $45.10, struck a deal to buy

CIT Group

(CIT) - Get Report

-- up 32.8% to $30.22, for about $9.2 billion.

Market Internals

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International

As losses mount in the U.S., Japanese stocks are plunging to their weakest levels since 1985. The yen fell to a 20-month low against the dollar yesterday amid concerns the Japanese government will be unable to restore health to the country's sick economy. Adding to the weakness in the market, Japan's prime minister,

Yoshiro Mori

, who is widely blamed for the country's economic weakness, refused to resign as he was scheduled to do last weekend.

Asian markets were devastated again overnight, with the

Nikkei 225

sliding another 2.9% to a new 16-year low at 11,819.7, and the

Hang Seng

falling 2.06% to a new 16-month low.

The dollar was much stronger on the yen, lately trading at 119.86 yen.

European investors were supporting a bounce in tech and telecom stocks near their midday, but a second day of losses in mobile-phone titan

Ericsson

(ERICY)

and selling in old economy stocks was kept the major European indices down. Londons's

FTSE

closed down 105.8 to 5721. Across the channel, the Paris-based

CAC

ended 55.5 lower to 5187 and the German

DAX

-- still trading -- was losing 100 to 5947.

The euro was lately trading at $0.9202.

For more on the world stock markets, check out

TheStreet.com's

global indices information.

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