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Positive news gets muted reaction

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Better-than expected news from jobless data and upside earnings news is getting a muted response from the broader futures markets this morning as S&P futures (sp02z) edge higher by 2 points.

The Labor Department said that first-time filings for state unemployment benefits fell by 40,000 to 384,000 in the latest week, which would be the lowest level since early August.

Economists were looking for claims at a 408,000 level. Weekly jobless claims had been above the 400,000 mark for six weeks in a row.

The four-week moving average of new claims, which smoothes out the weekly volatility, fell to 412,250 from 424,500, which had been a four-month high.

Continuing claims, which measures the number of individuals who continue to collect claims fell by 15,000 to 3.6 million. The number had been running at a 19-year high. It is unclear if the decline in continuing claims is a sign of people going back to work, or simply a decline due to extended benefits running out by those individuals that have exhausted their benefits.

Shares of Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) $9.98 are jumping 14.6% to $11.44 in pre-market trading after reported better than expected earnings and was able to grow revenues in the latest quarter. The Internet portal provider said Q3 earnings came in at $0.05 per share, which was a penny better than consensus on revenues that rose 49.8% year-over-year to $248.8 million versus analyst's estimates for quarterly revenue of $239.3 million.

Shares of health insurer Aetna (NYSE:AET) $31.69 jolted as high as $37.41 (+18% from close) over the New York ECNs after guiding analysts higher for its soon to be reported third quarter. The company said it sees 2002 operating earnings of approximately $0.70 per share, excluding favorable prior-period developments that will be reported on October 31. Bear Stearns upgraded shares of Aetna to "peer perform" from "underperform" after the company issued guidance last night.

S&P futures (sp02z) are showing a modest gain of 2 points to 779.80, while NASDAQ futures (nd02z) are up 4 points at 813.50 and Dow futures (dj02z) are higher by 15 points at 7,295.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.45. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $1.52 and set for program selling at $-2.26. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $2.80.

Jeff Bailey

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