OK, so Hewlett-Packard (HWP) kills the rally, huh?

Yes and no. Most of tech stocks' weakness can be ascribed to Hewlett's numbers, but other variables are contributing, too. Reports out of Asia that a DRAM supplier is increasing production and a rumor that PC companies are selling DRAMs have knocked down recent highflier

Micron

(MU) - Get Report

. You can hear a small murmur that maybe

Intel's

(INTC) - Get Report

prospects for the fourth quarter aren't as good as originally thought. (Remember, I'm not verifying this -- I'm just disclosing the rumors I'm hearing.)

Perhaps most important for the techs are fears that

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

may not sufficiently exceed their heightened expectations,

a la

Hewlett-Packard. The possibilities of double-ordering at AMAT and pricing pressure getting to Dell are at the forefront of people's fears.

So it looks like today may be somewhat reminiscient of July 19, when

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

Lucent

(LU)

and

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

reported earnings. A high bar was set for those earnings expectations; we all know what happened then.

On the CPI front, what new did we learn from an in-line number? Acceptable inflation levels were already discounted in Friday's rally. Now we will read and listen to the pundits,

ad nauseam

, argue the merits of: a 25-basis-point tightening; no tightening; 25 basis points and a neutral bias; no tightening and a tightening bias; etc., etc.

Personally, I believe that the aggregate numbers have been sufficiently strong to warrant a tightening. The fed funds futures seem to dictate that others agree. A tightening next week will allow the market, correctly or incorrectly, to assume the

Fed

is done and thus focus on other issues for a few weeks. As I mentioned

yesterday, I am now watching Applied Materials and Dell for signs of the direction of the market.

Random musings

: Thanks for all your kind emails. Unfortunately, I don't type 10,000 words a minute and without

JJC here, I have a day job to do. So I won't be returning any emails.

And yes, mom, I agree that the

picture makes me look like a monkey.

Jeff Berkowitz is a partner in hedge fund Cramer Berkowitz with James J. Cramer, co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, the fund was long Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Microsoft. The fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that the fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Berkowitz's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.