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Stock futures edge higher

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Yesterday's impressive rally looks to be getting a bit of a follow through this morning as stock futures edge higher. S&P futures currently trade up 3.1 points at 1,132.8, while NASDAQ futures gain 12.5 points to 1,430.5 and Dow futures edge up 23 points at 10,327.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $1.46. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $2.44 and set for selling at $0.48.

Trade gap widens

The Commerce Department reported that the gap in U.S. goods and services trade widened 10.5% to $31.5 billion in February from January's $28.5 billion, as an increase in imports outpaced a gain in exports. The report indicates that consumer demand is improving as imports for goods and services reached $110.7 billion in February, which is an increase of 3.9% from January. February 2002 imports were about 7% below February 2001 levels. In February, the non-petroleum deficit grew to $30.7 billion, the highest on record. The quantity of crude petroleum imports in February was 243.5 million barrels, which marks the lowest level of crude imports in nearly three years. U.S. exports to Japan came in at $3.88 billion and is the weakest export number to that country since January 1994. Imports to Japan have declined more than 26% in a year.

Intel bid higher

Last night's inline earnings from semiconductor giant and Dow Industrials component Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has the stock bidding higher at $31.11 in pre-market action (+5.6% from close) and helping all three futures contracts build gains. In last night's conference call the company updated guidance for next quarter and puts revenues between $6.4 and $7.0 billion (consensus was $6.7 billion) and said it expects gross margins to rise to 53% versus the 51.3% gross margin just reported in Q1. Intel said its capital expenditure budget should be approximately $5.5 billion in 2001, which was inline with previous guidance.

Veritas bid lower

Shares of software maker Veritas Software (NASDAQ:VRTS) are among the most actively traded in pre-market action at $31.50 (-14.5% from close) after the company exceeded earning's estimates by 3- cents a share, but said the selling climate for its products eroded as Q1 progressed as large deals forecasted by customers were often downsized at purchase time. The company said although it believes most IT spending budgets for this year were set in the less economically favorable September-November timeframe, the company does not think there has been enough positive economic data yet to induce a significant change in IT budgets for the remainder of the year by customers.

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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