Mixed Signals from 3Com and IBM

Cramer looks at the action in these two stocks to read the market at large.
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Two stocks are sending me mixed signals today. Remember, I watch stocks I don't own because they can be "tells" for the action. The two most beleaguered stocks in the marketplace are 3Com (COMS) and IBM (IBM) - Get Report. You can virtually follow this selloff through these two ne'er-do-wells.

I don't want to say "as 3Com and IBM go, so goes the market," but when I was calling in while I was out of the office the past two days, I kept asking for these two stocks. They have to stop going down before this selloff seems done to me. They loom large for me.

First, why do they matter? One, they are both closely followed by telco and computer companies. Two, 3Com's number cuts and IBM's blown quarter really started the big selloff. Three, there has been so much bad money in both names that, until it is all washed out, nobody is really safe in a whole host of other names that I like.

This morning, 3Com's numbers got hacked again by

Cowen

, but IBM was bulled by

Merrill

. IBM is down (it was up nicely yesterday). 3Com is actually up!! The first is discouraging, and the second is quite bullish. I want to see these stocks settle. If IBM turns and COMS holds, that's a positive tell.

Most important: I don't want to own either. I don't even care about either. As a trader, what I want to see is stability and an oversold condition in tech that forces selling to dry up. That will be the signal that I can get a little longer in tech than I have been.

Many of you have repeatedly asked about what I look at and see. This is as pure of a look at my mind as I can get. Hope it helps.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, his fund held no positions in the stocks mentioned, though positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer'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 by sending an email to letters@thestreet.com.