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Trade gap narrows in March

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Despite a spike in imported oil prices, the U.S. trade gap fell slightly to $31.6 billion in March from $31.8 billion in February. The March $31.6 billion numbers was slightly better than the $32.2 billion forecast from economists.

Exports rose 0.6% to $79.2 billion, the highest level since August. Imports increase 0.3% to $110.8 billion in March, also the highest since August.

For the first quarter, exports were down 12.1% versus year-ago levels at $236.1 billion as the U.S. dollar strengthened versus world currencies. Conversely, first-quarter imports of $327.8 billion declined 9.9% from a year earlier, reflecting the sharp decline in industrial activity.

Dell active in pre-market action

Shares of Dell Computer (NASDAQ:DELL) $27.85 are trading higher in pre-market action at the $28.36 level after the PC box-maker posted earnings last night that beat estimates by a penny. Last night the company reported earnings of $0.17 a share on revenues that rose 0.5% year-over-year to $8.07 billion versus consensus of $7.87 billion. In the company's conference call, DELL said demand has stabilized and the company is seeing improvement in some areas. In Q1 (April), average selling prices increased 4% sequentially, partially due to a shift to more sales of notebook computers to the corporate market.

Consumer sentiment due out at 09:45 AM EST

Traders will be watching the newswire closely at 09:45 AM EST as consumer sentiment numbers are scheduled to be released. Economists are looking for a reading of 93.0 for May, which would be unchanged from April's 93.0 reading.

Stock futures trading higher

Stock futures are showing gains as S&P futures trade up 5.10 points at 1,104.20. NASDAQ futures are higher by 22 points at 1,345.50 and Dow futures are up 41 points at 10,334.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.24. That price will not change during the day. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $1.55 and set for program selling at $-1.19. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $2.50.

Option Expiration!

Today is option expiration, so check your account to see if you might not have an option expiring at the end of today's session that you didn't know about.

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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