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Economic data has futures mixed

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Stock futures are mixed this morning's as investors chew on this morning's economic data that showed jobless claims for the latest week falling by 3,000 to 377,000, which was slightly better than economists had expected. The prior week's reading of 376,000 was revised higher to 380,000. The less volatile four-week moving average, which removes the weekly swings - rose 1,000 to 374,750.

Continuous jobless claims rose 96,000 to nearly 3.48 million, the Labor Department said. That number more than reclaimed the 83,000 decline in recipients reported for a week earlier and leaves the level near where it hovered for much of February.

Inventories rising

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in January after falling 0.5% in December. Economists were looking for inventories to decline -0.3% in January. Total business sales rose 1.1% in January, marking the first rise in business inventory in 12 months.

With sales rising faster than inventories, the inventory-to-sales ration fell from 1.39 to 1.38, the lowest level in nearly two years. Inventories are now 6% below January 2001 levels.

The Commerce Department also said the current account deficit - the broadest measure of the nation's financial standing with the rest of the world - rose slightly in the 4th quarter of 2001 to $98.7 billion from $98.5 billion in the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter's $98.7 billion was slightly lower (better than expected) than the $101.3 billion consensus.

Stock futures

Stock futures are mixed with S&P futures edging lower from earlier levels after this morning's economic data and currently trade unchanged at 1,157. NASDAQ futures are down 3.5 points at 1,494 and Dow futures are up 7 points at 10,522.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $2.73. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $3.62 and set for program selling at $1.42. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $8.80.

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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