NEW YORK -- For all the talk of a bullish market and improving business, it's the same old worries about earnings and the economy that are holding Wall Street back.
Although the stock market appears to be stabilizing, there still is a dearth of signs of an economic rebound. Until a recovery is assured, stocks, now hovering at their pre-Sept. 11 levels, will have a hard time extending their rebound into a true rally.
The beginning of fourth-quarter warnings season makes the scenario even more complicated.
"The market's being forced to confront the tough, difficult operating environment," said Bryan Piskoroswki, market commentator at Prudential Securities. "It's just hard for the market to support higher stock prices in light of the negative preannouncements and the fact there is still no real sign of a pickup in terms of economic data."
Economic news has been mixed, and not enough to inspire investors. Although the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits appears to be falling, which indicates a stabilizing of the labor market, the output at the country's factories, mines and utilities also continued to decline. The Fed's 11th interest rate cut of the year on Tuesday also failed to set off any strong buying, or even preserve the market's gains.