This column was originally published on RealMoney on Oct. 17 at 2:33 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for readers.

Given that the General Motors ( GM) news is good, that Boeing ( BA) won a pretty big order, that General Electric ( GE) reported a terrific quarter last week, that Altria ( MO) emerged unscathed from a big kahuna case and that Refco's ( RFX) got a place to go , I have to admit this is a pretty crummy reaction.

I expected something more effusive from the market.

But I wouldn't quit here. The news backdrop, plus the decline in gasoline, is coming at the right time. If we knew that this latest hurricane was going past us, I believe we would see a better market.

The market, though, is discouraging. We've been plummeting on bad news.

The good news seems to mean nothing. In fact, the GM news is worth more than it is trading for, and, I have to admit, I believe the Altria news is worth less.

Is there something behind the scenes going on?

One thought is that it might be the effect of options expiration week. We already are getting pinned. GM's to $30, Altria to $75, Citi to $45. Unless we get blow-away earnings this week, I believe we will be hostage to the levels you now see on a lot of stocks.

When the market lacks conviction, as this one certainly does, the futures and options hold sway. Otherwise, I believe we should be higher than we are today. I believe a Boeing, for example, may just be trapped at $65, regardless of the news.

But it's not all bad. If I am right, watch or buy Exxon ( XOM). It should be able to add a point here to finish at $60. If I am wrong, I doubt it can go down more than 25 cents to 50 cents. That would be the limited-risk, maximum-reward play on what I am seeing in expiration week.

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