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Twiddle, twiddle, twiddle.

Waiting on the


can get a little tiresome. But Wall Street's early-session paralysis illustrates the seething nervousness in the marketplace. Will Fed Boss

Alan Greenspan

hike interest rates? There's certainly a fear of that, especially after the early-morning housing starts figure for November came in at a hotter-than-expected 9% gain.

But the majority of nervous investors believe the Fed will sit tight and make no move. Indeed, no major-brokerage house economist is calling for a rate hike today. But until the secretive Federal Open Market Committee emerges (around 2:00 PM EST), the markets will anxiously sit and wait.

In such an atmosphere, though, the market continues to sift in a certain direction. Large-cap stocks seem to draw attention away from the small caps, despite cacophony of support for small-cap stocks. Popular big stock yesterday included recent key leaders such as



TheStreet Recommends


(MSFT:Nasdaq) and


(IBM:NYSE). One potential fly in the ointment: weak news from



Micron shares drifted lower even as

Merrill Lynch

fought gamely to protect one of their favorite tech stocks. Merrill upgraded the stock in early August. One trader said Micron's health is crucial to the broader semiconductor group. Lingering weakness for Micron would simply add one more dash of worry to an already fragile stock market.

By Dave Kansas