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Retail Sales have futures higher

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This morning's retail sales report showed an overall decline of -0.2% for the month of January, which was a little lower than expected, but the bullish surprise came from the "excluding autos" where sales actually jumped 1.2%, which was much better than consensus for a gain of just 0.2%. The 1.2% jump in January was the biggest increase since March of 2000, when retail sales excluding autos jumped 2%.

Gas prices had consumers paying more at the pump in January and that helped January's retail sales rise. Sales at gasoline stations rose 5.1%, thanks to a recent return to higher prices. Sales at retail and food establishments slipped 0.2% last month, which was weaker than economists' forecasts for a slight gain. Sales of auto parts and cars fell 4.3% in January and have declined over the past few months. Taking out gasoline, retail sales would have fallen -0.6% in January. Overall, retail sales compared to a year ago are up 2.8%.

Upside alert on Copper

As I'm writing, I'm getting an upside alert on the March Copper futures (hg02h) at $0.745, which is a new relative high that is a break above the February 2001 high of $0.7435/pound. Copper stocks could be bullish today. A name I've liked is Phelps Dodge (NYSE:PD) $36.36.

Stock futures higher

Stock futures have been creeping ever so slightly higher after the release of this morning's retail sales numbers as S&P futures trade higher by 4 points at $1,111, NASDAQ futures are up 15 points at $1,476 and Dow futures are higher by 36 points at $9,896.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.15. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $1.45 and set for selling at $-0.92. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $2.68.

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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