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Stock futures see gains

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Stock futures are posting gains as S&P futures (sp03h) gain 3.6 points to 839.60, while NASDAQ futures (nd03h) add 6 points to 975 and Dow futures (dj03h) move 51 points higher to 7,960.

While futures are moving higher, software giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) $47.40 edges lower by 16 cents to $47.24 in pre- market trade after new complaints about unfair business practices resurfaced at the European Commission.

The Commission confirmed today that it would look into a new complaint from a group of telecom, computer and electronics companies. The group, which includes Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Eastman Kodak (NYSE:EK), Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and AOL Time Warner (NYSE:AOL) asked EU regulators to block Microsoft's efforts to extend it Windows monopoly into new markets.

EU antitrust regulators are expected to wind up an existing probe into Microsoft's practices in the first half of 2003. A Commission spokeswoman said that the new complaint was not expected to delay the current probe.

The new complaint says that the latest version of Microsoft's operating system, Windows XP, threatens competition in mobile communications, digital music, video distribution and Web services.

Shares of semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) $12.05 are the most actively traded stock in this morning's pre-market session and are inching higher by 3 cents at $12.08. After the close of trading today the company will report its recently completed first quarter earnings. On January 31 the company warned that Q1 orders had fallen since its November conference call and saw orders down 35% versus previous guidance of a 20% decline. Analysts are not looking for the company to report a Q1 profit of $0.02 per share.

The Insurance sector looks for a boost from Aetna (NYSE:AET) $41.53 after it reported Q4 earnings of $142.6 million, or $0.92 a share, versus a loss of $0.59 in the year-ago-quarter. Adjusting for non-recurring items, AET reported net income of $98.2 million or $0.63 per share on revenues that fell 21.9% year-over-year to $4.72 billion, which was still ahead of consensus estimates of $4.6 billion. There is some confusion as to what analysts had based their estimates off of, but with the stock indicating its open at $43.40 and Briefing.com now saying it has consulted with Multex, it looks as if AET beat estimates by $0.18.

HL Camp's web site is down currently and I'm not able to get their fair values and buy/sell program levels. When their site comes up, I'll post them in the market monitor at OptionInvestor.com and intra-day commentary.

Jeff Bailey

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