Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Earnings Season Gets under Way but Investors Remain in the Dark

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Earnings Season Gets under Way but Investors Remain in the Dark

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) -- The earnings reports that began pouring in this past week were supposed to help guide the market out of its malaise - - or at the very least, provide Wall Street with some direction. Instead, the major stock indexes have made little progress and investors seem just as befuddled about whether now is the time to buy.

That's to be expected, say analysts, who contend that until more companies can say business is improving and the technology sector shows signs of a revival, any market advances will be incremental.

"We just need to know that the drought is beginning to lessen, the blood bath is ending, We're starting to hear that a little bit, but... investors have become more conservative. They need to hear more," said Brian Belski, fundamental market strategist at US Bancorp Piper Jaffray. "I think the most realistic outcome when earnings are finished will be that we flatline."

The indexes came close to that this week, with the Dow Jones industrials and Standard & Poor's 500 index ending within 1 percent of where they started. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite index down nearly 3 percent, despite sessions that saw tech stocks reverse course daily.

All three measures are well above their lows for 2001, which analysts say means the market is building a base from which to advance. But they remain below where they started the year: The Dow is off 2 percent, the S&P 500 down 8 percent, while the technology- focused Nasdaq has dropped nearly 18 percent.

Still, the picture gets a little rosier, when investors look beyond the indexes. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 have significant technology components, making their overall results vulnerable to the ongoing hemorrhaging in that sector.

A look at non-technology issues suggests that investors have been doing some nibbling -- albeit very selectively, but enough to push some stocks consistently higher. …

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