The one thing bullish investors prefer to see after a big drop like we saw on Friday is a strong rebound. Yet with continuing uncertainty about the election, the fiscal cliff, and problems in Europe and elsewhere around the world, investors weren't much in the mood to bid up stocks sharply this morning. Markets dropped initially before wavering near breakeven. By 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) were down 20 points.

Although this week's slate of earnings reports won't be as heavy as last week's, stocks will continue to move based on the news companies give shareholders. Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) bounced back from a drop at the open to rise 0.75% as investors chose to focus on positive third-quarter profits. The equipment company blew out estimates, posting earnings per share of $2.54 that beat the consensus prediction by $0.33 per share. Yet Caterpillar also gave guidance on full-year 2012 results that were below what analysts hoped to see.

Falling this morning were shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), down almost 2% as the company gets ready for the release of its Windows 8 operating system. Yet the company is also pinning high hopes on its Surface tablet, which it expects to start selling on Friday. Still, as Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pointed out over the weekend, the version of the Surface that Microsoft is making available this week won't have Windows 8 Pro, which is powered by Intel (NASDAQ: INTC). If that dissuades early adopters from paying up for the tablet, Microsoft could have another debacle on its hands.

Finally, General Electric (NYSE:GE) fell nearly 2% on continuing fallout after its third-quarter earnings report on Friday. As Fool contributor Daniel Ferry noted on Saturday, the smaller size of GE Capital, along with concerns about the sustainability of wind energy, posed the biggest threats in many investors' eyes. Yet over the long haul, the company's focus on renewable energy could be one of its biggest growth drivers -- assuming that prices for traditional energy sources like oil remain high.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.