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Is This Time Different?

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Dow down 52 points, but S&P 500 up 5 points — huh? IBM is down over $14, responsible for roughly 100 Dow points.

Is this time different? The meager three percent pullback in the S&P 500 at the end of February made a lot of traders believe that any pullback should be bought, but there has been a lot of discussion this week that this pullback might be different. The following arguments are being batted around:

1) the technicals are worse: this week has seen two days (Monday and Wednesday) where 90 percent of the volume was on the downside on very large volume; this has led many to question whether we are still in an up trend in the markets;

2) the macros are different: March and early April economic numbers (Philly Fed) have been weak (this is becoming a regular Spring event);

3) tech is in trouble; Fairchild Semi and Sandisk had notable drops yesterday, IBM is down four percent this morning on its earning miss, and Apple is at a new low 52-week low.

However, it's a little early to draw any conclusions from earnings, other than tech disappointment. Early bank reports (JPMorgan and Wells Fargo) were good, but Bank of America disappointed, and multi-industry company reports have been mixed. General Electric was fair but CEO Jeff Immelt noted ongoing weakness in Europe.

As of this morning,104 companies have reported (21 percent of the S&P 500), with 67 percent beating expectations — slightly above the norm. Earnings are 2.0 percent higher than the same period last year, with revenue outpacing last year by 3.2 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. However, guidance has been cautious to poor.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Wall Street