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Consumer saw modest price increases in January

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While yesterday's producer price index jump of 1.6% gave investors a jolt in yesterday's pre-market trade, there were few surprises in the morning's release of economic data, which had the January consumer price index rising a modest 0.3%, with the core rate edging up just 0.1%. Both numbers were inline with economist's forecast.

This morning's CPI data has seen little response from the stock futures or bond markets, which have both markets hovering near the unchanged levels.

S&P futures (sp03h) are modestly lower, ticking down 0.30 at 838.80. NASDAQ futures (nd03h) are down 1.5-points at 1,003, while Dow futures (dj03h) are nudged higher by 10 points at 7,935.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $-0.14. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.62 and set for program selling at $-1.82.

Treasuries are mixed to flat this morning with the 5-year and 10- year bonds seeing fractional buying, while the longer-dated 30- year bond trades lower by 2/32 at $113'23 as it's YIELD ($TYX.X) rises fractionally to 4.803%. The benchmark 10-year YIELD ($TNX.X) is unchanged at 3.846%.

The U.S. Dollar is fractionally higher against a basket of 7 major foreign currencies as the U.S. Dollar Index (dx00y) 99.56 edges up 0.01. The euro was holding fractional gains at $1.08 despite the French government saying will have to lower its GDP growth forecast for 2003 from 2.5% after reporting a Q4 GDP of 0.2%, which was down from Q3 GDP of 0.3%. All total, France's 2002 GDP fell to 1.2% from 1.8% in 2001.

Shares of BEA Software (NASDAQ:BEAS) $11.21 are trading down 4.1% to $10.75 after the business software maker posted Q4 (January) earnings of $0.09 per share, which was a penny better than consensus estimates. Pacific Growth downgraded the stock in this morning's pre-market to "underweight" from "equal-weight," saying BEAS's Q1 guidance was disappointing and that they would be hard pressed to pay 39-times earnings for a company facing so much competition and risk that is growing with software licenses growing at less than 5% year-over-year.

Retailer Target (NYSE:TGT) $26.77 is being called higher at $27.25 after UBS Piper Jaffray upgraded the stock to "strong buy" from "outperform," saying the discount retailer's stabilizing credit portfolio was a sign of encouragement, and that much of the competitive pressure from Kmart's liquidation has been eliminated.

April Light, Sweet Crude futures (cl03j) are gaining 49-cents, or 1.41% at $35.23. Merrill Lynch raised it oil price forecasts for 2003 to $26.50 per barrel for Brent North Sea crude and $28.50 for West Texas Intermediate, citing lower inventories.

Jeff Bailey

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