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Too soon to forecast rebound in chips

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Stock futures are edging lower after Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) $18.13 Chairman Andy Grove said it may be too early to forecast a rebound in the semiconductor sector despite industry outlooks indicating an upturn may be on the horizon. Mr. Groves comments saw Intel's shares trade lower by 13-cents to $18.00 in pre- market action. "During the course of the year, nothing much has happened up or down" to overall chip sales, Grove said after a speech in San Francisco. "The beginning of the end? I wouldn't be so optimistic."

Publisher Dow Jones & Co. (NYSE:DJ) $39.91 is raising its profit outlook for the fourth quarter, saying it expects earnings before special items in the mid-20 cents per share range. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are currently looking for a profit of 17 cents a share.

Consumer products maker Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) $47.93 are falling to $46.42 in the pre-market trade after saying it expects fourth quarter earnings per share before unusual items of 72 to 76 cents, below the guidance of 82-86 cents per share provided in October and below last year's 82 cents per share before unusual items.

KBM blamed half of the shortfall to "lower sales volumes as a result of competitive challenges in our diaper and training pants businesses in North America and Europe."

Homebuilder Toll Brother (NYSE:TOL) $19.68 is trading up 32-cents in pre-market action after the company posted a Q4 profit of $0.93 a share, which was 4-cents better than consensus, versus year-ago EPS of $0.92. Revenues rose 8% to $705.6 million (consensus $678.24 million). The company said it was positioned to deliver 2003 revenues of approximately $2.6 billion (consensus $2.717 billion). TOL put its 2004 revenues at approximately $3 billion.

Stock futures have been inching lower as we approach the opening bell with S&P futures (sp02z) currently down 2 points at 900. NASDAQ futures are off 5.5 points at 1,025.50 and Dow futures (dj02z) are down 25 points at 8,530.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.05. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $1.34 and set for program selling at $-1.24. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $0.55.

Jeff Bailey

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