The hunt for a catalyst is turning up few suspects early this morning.
Wall Street was idle and listless this morning, with the market playing the waiting game -- waiting for earnings, waiting for earnings warnings and waiting for signs of divine (intermeeting) intervention by
. Futures and preopen stock trading were quiet and indicated a flat to lower open on the market. Last week, the
skidded 6.5%, the
shed 2.7% and the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
In the absence of big news this morning, much attention is focused on
earnings report Tuesday, kicking off the tech-earnings season. Motorola -- the first of the three major mobile-phone makers to report -- has lowered its estimates for the quarter twice already, and some analysts say it could be the company's worst quarter in 16 years.
Even as first-quarter earnings season gets underway, warnings continue to filter in -- the latest from
late on Friday. The high-tech exterminator, whose software tackles bug problems of all sizes, dropped its revenue estimates for fiscal fourth quarter to between $505 million and $515 million, citing the negative impact of foreign currency and the reorganization of its professional services business. Analysts were expecting $548 million. Compuware expects to meet fourth-quarter earnings estimates of 15 cents to 17 cents a share, in line with the consensus estimate of 16 cents a share for the quarter. The company earned 15 cents a share a year ago.
reached a preliminary pay deal agreement with its mechanics, ending a 4 1/2-year stalemate just days before an arbitration deadline.
At 7:40 a.m.,
S&P 500 futures, which track the broad market, were down 2 points, about 2 points above
fair value, as calculated by
, pointing to a flat open.
futures, which track big-cap tech stocks, were down 5 points, about 3 points above fair value, as calculated by
, also pointing to a flat open. Thinly traded
Dow futures were down 25 points. Fair value is usually a good gauge of how stocks will trade in early action.
Meanwhile, chatter about interest-rate cuts could filter through today's session. Friday's weak
inspired optimism in some corners of the market that the
Fed might step up its interest rate-cutting schedule and make its next move as soon as this week.
, for one, issued a report shortly after the data was released predicting that the Fed could lop off as much as 50 basis points from the current
fed funds rate of 5% before Friday. The
employment data showed a steep drop-off in payrolls in March, combined with inflationary strength in average hourly earnings.
The bears seem to hold the upper hand over this market, but some bulls have slowly and tentatively begun to emerge. The bulls seem to think the market may have
successfully retested its lows and is finally beginning to build a bottom. Investors sold stocks furiously during March and the first few days of April, and some think the market can't go any lower. The Nasdaq is now 65% off its highs of last March, the S&P 500 is down 25% and the Dow is down 15%.
The major European indices were drifting quietly today as they too waited on Motorola's report. London and Paris were flat and Frankfurt was just barely in the green. London's market saw weakness in banking stocks countered by strength in oil shares, and the
was off 8.1 to 5593.4. Across the Channel, the Paris
was losing 3.9 to 5135.8. Frankfurt's
was gaining 24.3 to 5723.2.
Asian markets tanked overnight. Disappointed by the lack of specifics in an emergency economic aid package released by the government, and following four straight days of gains, Japanese investors sold stocks furiously. Tokyo's
slumped 542, or 4.05%, to close at 12,841.8. Hong Kong's stock market also suffered losses, and the key
lost 184.5 to end the day's trading at 12,202.1.