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Futures steady, as Dreyer's melts

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Stocks are looking to open marginally higher as S&P futures (sp03h) edge higher by 0.40 at 822.70, while NASDAQ futures (nd03h) hold unchanged at 985.50 and Dow futures show an 8-point gain at 7,720.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $-0.16. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.58 and set for program selling at $-1.42. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $0.76.

The euro broke through the $1.10 mark against the U.S. dollar in European trade, which was a new four-year-high, before settling back to the $1.0966 level. Currency strategists attributed the down-dollar move to comments from Treasury Secretary John Snow overnight.

Snow told reporters he was "not particularly concerned about" the dollar's slide since the G7 meeting in Paris on Feb 21-22.

Treasuries are seeing modest buying across the major maturities with the shorter-dated 5-year YIELD ($FVX.X) 2.583% quickly approaching its October low YIELDS of 2.515% found on October 10th. The 10-year March futures contract (ty03h) $117'100 +0.16 is higher by 6/32 as the benchmark bond's YIELD ($TNX.X) slips lower at 3.626%.

While stock futures show a flat to marginally positive open, shares of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream (NASDAQ:DRYR) $74.58 are melting lower by 21.8% to $58.30 and are this morning's most actively traded stock, after FTC regulators said late yesterday that they would try to block Nestle's from acquiring the company as a potential marriage between the two companies would most likely mean higher ice cream prices and unfair competition in the segment. On June 17, 2002, shares of Dreyer's surged from $42.79 to $67.29 on news that Nestle would buy Dreyer's ice cream business and that shareholders of Dreyer's would receive the right to sell their shares to the company for $83 per share beginning in 2006.

Shares of Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) $29.30 are this morning's third most actively traded stock at $27.83 after the company reported Q2 (February) earnings of $0.42 per share (excluding charges), which was inline with expectations. However, the company said it took a 3-cent per share charge in the recently completed quarter to reflect increasing workers compensation reserves in response to rising claims, particularly in California. The company's CEO said "With recent legislative changes in California, effective January 1, 2003, we believe these rising trends will continue to impact us."

Jeff Bailey

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