(At 10:50 a.m. EDT)



) -- Before the opening bell, it looked as though the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

would be in for a rough session, with futures down nearly 100 points.

Lately, though, the Dow was falling only 20 points, or only a quarter of Tuesday's advance. That's thanks to advances in components such as oil companies

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report



(CVX) - Get Report

after the Energy Department's weekly inventory data showed surprising declines in crude oil inventories.

On the flip side,


(AA) - Get Report

was the biggest drag on the blue-chip average after Goldman Sachs downgraded the company's stock to neutral, removing it from the firm's "conviction buy" list.

Goldman cited valuation as the reason for the Alcoa downgrade, instead recommending clients to rotate into


(FCX) - Get Report

. Shares of Alcoa dropped more than 3.5%.

Elsewhere on the Dow,


(HPQ) - Get Report

also appeared to be in for a rough session after the company reported quarterly results after Tuesday's closing bell. While the company beat top- and bottom-line estimates for the last quarter, the PC maker said revenue should climb to $29.7 billion, below Wall Street's target. Shares of H-P were down nearly 2% in early trading.

All of that aside, today's action is another reason why I'm confused about what the short-term direction of the market will be. When the Dow futures were down about 100 points, I thought it would once again stoke fears that yesterday's advance was a slight bounce in what will become an extended downturn. In other words, Monday's drop was no fluke and certainly may not be the best spot to buy in.

Yesterday, I asked readers to email me with their thoughts on the Dow's direction, whether they were bullish or bearish, and what they expect over the near term. September, which is historically the worst month of the year for equities, is just around the corner, so I wanted to know how investors were reacting to the up-and-down action to start the week. The responses did not disappoint.

Some responses were short and sweet. Shahram G. is "

bullish about the economy, bearish about the current valuation of stocks

." Similarly, Scott F. is "

bullish long term but I expect and am ready for a 10% to 12% pullback


Robert H. (not me and no relation) said he is "

all cash waiting for this slow bumpy way down to happen

." Norman, meanwhile, has "a gut feeling that will have a pull back in September."

Some responses were a bit longer but are just as valuable. Michael T. said that while he cannot predict the daily machinations of the market, it does appear that the economy is at least leveling off and hopefully set for a shallow but sustained rise from here.


Steady as she goes would be a major plus for the market and places me firmly with the bulls intermediate to long term

," he added.

Kenneth R. said he is bearish but expects to lose on his short position.


Hoping Wednesday is a down day so I can get out of these short positions. They are too scary. And flows into equities building or stable not retrenching. Gulp

," he said.

Mark R. argued that the prudent thing to do would be to short the rallies, "

which I have been doing through puts and shorts, and also short oil futures as the dollar should strengthen in the near term and the Aussie should fall after being overextended


My favorite response, though, came from Kurt M., who said that in a word, no, the pullback is not over.


Further, it shouldn't be, if we're to expect fair value in stocks. The consumers who represent 70% of domestic demand have been triple hit: wealth (housing/equity), loan scarcity/qualifications, and jobs. No one is predicting those three measurables returning to Oct. 2007 levels for YEARS. If stock appreciation is tied to earnings growth, and earnings growth is tied to the consumer, why would the market inflate now? We were closer to fair value in March than we are today

," he said.

Considering that we're about to open deep in the red, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks now about the short-term action of the Dow. Please feel free to email me at


with your thoughts.