Bears Are in Charge, But Not Convincingly

There certainly was a selloff on Wall Street Monday -- but there wasn't much certainty behind that selloff.

Volume was the lightest in almost a month, with NYSE composite volume of 3.16 billion shares, showing the bears lacked conviction even as they pressed the sell buttons.

First-quarter earnings season kicks off tonight with Alcoa (NYSE:AA), and the Dow component and aluminum giant is expected to have lost money at the start of the year. Analysts expect Alcoa to report a net loss of 4 cents per share on revenue of $5.8 billion in the quarter, compared with earnings of 28 cents per share and sales of $5.9 billion in the first quarter of last year.

Alcoa has not offered a positive surprise in the past three quarters, but before that beat estimates for five quarters in a row.

Analysts have warned that a slowdown in China, the world's No. 2 economy, and a debt crisis in Europe could hurt U.S. companies. After all, China and Europe are huge buyers of American-made goods.

Facebook, meanwhile, is making its biggest purchase ever, acquiring photo-sharing site Instagram for $1 billion. Instagram is a free service that allows users to filter and share their photos and boasts more than 30 million users. Owning it may help Facebook in its effort to attract mobile users and the advertisers who target them.

Facebook is working to raise $5 billion in the biggest initial public offering for an Internet company expected this summer.

AT&T (NYSE:T) is selling its iconic but unprofitable Yellow Pages to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in a deal worth $950 million including debt. AT&T will retain a 47% stake in the new company, just in case Cerberus can turn around Yellow Pages' bad fortunes.