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Personal Income rises 0.3%, while spending was flat

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Economic data released this morning showed personal incomes rising 0.3% in February, but uncertainties with regard to the pending war with Iraq had personal spending unchanged. Both numbers were slightly better that economists forecast of +0.2% on the income side, while the 0% February spending change was better than economists forecast for a -0.2% decline. Still, the lack of spending in February shows a consumer that has become much more cautious than past, when spending often outpaced income.

This morning's economic data found little reaction from stock futures traders, which were already showing signs of a lower open for stocks. S&P futures (sp03m) currently trade down 5.2 points at 862.20, which is just above the 860 level this time yesterday morning. NASDAQ futures (nd03m) are lower by 6.5 points at 1,055, while Dow futures (dj03m) are down 40 points at 8,130.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $-0.82. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.46 and set for program selling at $-2.06. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $3.33.

Later this morning at 09:45 AM EST, traders will get the revised Michigan consumer sentiment reading for March. The preliminary reading was 75.0 and economists look for that number to remain unchanged.

The Williamsburg Bridge leading into Manhattan was closed this morning after citizens witnessed three suspicious-looking men climbing on the bridge's cables. Under a heightened alert for potential terrorist plots, several bridges leading into Manhattan have been closed and are currently under inspection by city officials.

Shares of AMR Corp. (NYSE:AMR) $1.79 fell to $1.68 over New York ECNs after the parent company of the worlds largest airline is thought to be set to file for bankruptcy as early as next week. Yesterday the company said it was trying to do everything possible to avoid bankruptcy, however many analysts feel a filing could come as early as Monday if American fails in negotiations with its labor unions or sometime next week.

Imclone (NASDAQ:IMCL) $17.38 is jumping to $18.92 this morning after its partner for its cancer drug Erbitux Merck KGaA reported that an independent panel had confirmed its positive assessment of the Erbitux trial and that it was on track to file for approval in the middle of 2003. Chief Executive Bernhard Scheuble told the company's annual shareholders meeting attendees that he expected the drug to generate peak annual sales of 250- 500 million euros ($268-$535 million) in its territories.

On the war front, the New York Times reported this morning that intelligence information indicates that Saddam Hussein has moved chemical weapons to the Medina Division outside of Baghdad. Officials said the information pointed to the deployment of 155- millimeter artillery weapons with shells carrying mustard gas and sarin.

Jeff Bailey

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