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Despite weak jobless data, stock futures rise

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This morning's weekly jobless data issued by the Labor Department continues to show a weak job market as claims jumped by 38,000 to 445,000 for the week ended March 29, which was well above the 410,000 forecasted by economists. Continuing claims for the week ended March 22 rose 107,000.

While the jobless data is the weakest reported so far this year, early morning futures action has traders looking to discount the data on thoughts the labor market will improve when a resolution on Iraq is found as S&P futures (sp03m) are gaining 9 points at 886.20. NASDAQ futures (nd03m) are also on the rise and being marked higher by 14 points at 1,076, while Dow futures (dj03m) are gaining 88 points at 8,330.

Treasuries are seeing modest selling in early morning trade with the 10-year YIELD ($TNX.X) up fractionally now at 3.942% after trading with a 3.97% YIELD just before this morning's jobless data was released.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $-0.87. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.21 and set for program selling at $-2.33. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $3.00.

For those traders using q-charts, you can follow program buy/sell alerts with the symbol ($prem.x). Other trading platforms may have different symbols such as (sp-prem, @prem, $prem, prem.x, sps and spinx).

I wrote an article in the "Ask the Analyst" section of both the OptionInvestor.com and premierinvestor.net on the potential usages for the buy/sell program premium levels on December 15, 2002.

Shares of Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) $32.09 are being slammed lower at $18.80 in pre-market trade after the company slashed it first-quarter guidance. The company guided Q1 to a range of $0.13-$0.15, which is well below consensus of $0.38 per share. As a result of lower bookings, the company sees revenues at $189 to $192 million versus previous estimates of $205-$210 million. The company said "A change in the competitive environment and more challenging economics for health care provider organizations resulted in us losing some deals we expected to win and some deals being pushed out of the quarter."

Stocks that traders may want to keep a close eye on in association with today's announcement out of CERN are shares of McKesson (NYSE:MCK) $25.40, which is indicating lower at $24.01 over the New York ECNs and IDX Systems (NASDAQ:IDXC) $15.84, which is seeing a negative pre-market trade at $15.19.

Semiconductor stocks are seeing gains in pre-market trade after JMP Securities upgraded shares of Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) $7.00 to "strong buy" from "market outperform based on the firms thoughts that AMD is expected to return to profitability faster than consensus forecast, positive news flows regarding potential design wins and industry support for is Opteron 64-bit server processor, and expected market share gains in flash memory. JMP raised it price target from $7 to $10 for AMD.

Here's a chart of the S&P 100 Index (OEX.X) for a conclusion to last night's Index Trader Wrap at OptionInvestor.com. With the OEX very close to its WEEKLY R1, I will have my buy/sell program alerts set this morning and try and keep traders in the market monitor updated on any alerts received.

S&P 100 Index Chart - Daily Interval

Not all that unlike the NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X), the S&P 100 Index (OEX.X) traded very close to its WEEKLY R1 of 451 yesterday and settle right on its 200-day SMA. The OEX has proved it can break above this longer-term 200-day SMA in recent past, and think the internals as depicted by the S&P 100 Bullish % ($BPOEX) that held "tough" at 43% during the recent decline and added a net gain of 1 stock to a reversing point and figure buy signal gives thought to higher price action. About six sessions of decline has been nearly erased in two sessions and this too gives some thought that the OEX has some "umph" in it. As long as the bullish % doesn't deteriorate, bulls will look for support to be firm at 430 as I would think any bears below that level are now more than just a "little jittery." Bulls would like to see intermediate support build from 441-443. Yesterday, the OEX spent all of 6-minutes in this zone so the move through it to the upside was powerful. Last week however, the OEX stayed in or around this range (March 27-28) before a break-down to the recent low.

To get a move going above WEEKLY R1, traders will look for further selling in Treasuries. True... "good news" on the war front can trigger selling in bonds, but the growing number of supply/demand traders know its CASH from the bond market's selling that helps drive stock market price action!

I'd also like to ask subscribers to e-mail me some questions for this weekend's "Ask the Analyst" column. While I love analyzing specific stocks, I would prefer questions (and I think subscribers do to) that can have broader application.

I love writing the "Ask the Analyst" column, but I in NO WAY portend to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. If you've seen something that another analyst at PI or OI has talked about and I have no clue what that indicator or "gizmo" is supposed to tell a trader (I like X's and O's) then let me know, and I'll try and get that analyst to write an article for the column.

Jeff Bailey

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