Beware the ides of March, indeed. In contrast to its indecisive coyness two weeks ago, the stock market has exhibited clarity of purpose in recent days. To state the obvious, the market's near-term trend has turned decidedly negative. But even if Wednesday's sharp declines augur more weakness, it's premature to declare the 16-month-old bull market dead (even if hardcore bears will gladly make that case). After closing below its 50-day moving average on Tuesday for the first time since Nov. 21, the Dow Jones Industrials tumbled 1.5% Wednesday, breaking near-term support at 10,375 and ending at its lowest level since Dec. 19. The Nasdaq Composite, which turned negative for the year Tuesday, retreated further from the much-ballyhooed 2000 level, ending at its lowest point since Dec. 22. The S&P 500 also shed 1.5% in a session that confirmed weakness that has been building steadily in recent weeks. Wednesday was a "particularly important break," according to Woody Dorsey, president of Market Semiotics in Castleton, Vt., who sagely predicted a "March massacre" for stocks one month ago. "You've seen a mood shift and change in risk appetites, which are the most important things to initiate a correction." While declaring "this could get nastier" and that's there's an "outside risk" the recent bull market has ended, Dorsey believes the market will make a low "within three or four weeks" and rally sharply thereafter. "The market will rebound," he said. "The bigger message is that after virtually a one-way market for the last year, now we're going to get into a different kind of market, a two-way, more tactical market." John Bollinger, president of Bollinger Capital Management in Manhattan Beach, Calif., offered a similar, albeit more outwardly optimistic, view. "We're going through a normal correction and you often get washouts at the end" of those, he said. "I don't see any real technical damage being done."