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Still not hiring

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Weekly jobless claims show a still weak job market as corporations remain hesitant to hire back workers, but not weak enough to have stock futures holding near their morning highs and indicating a higher open for stocks.

The Labor Department said weekly jobless claims for the week ended June 7 fell by 17,000 to 430,000, which missed economists forecast of 425,000. The prior week's data was revised down by 5,000 to 442,000. This has the closely watched four-week average rising 2,250 to 433,750, which is still well above the 400,000 level many economists consider the waterline for improving/weakening jobs market. The Labor Department added that the number of Americans who remain on benefits rose 120,000 to 3.8 million, the highest since April 1983.

While the jobless data gets the bulk of traders, investors and economists attention, retail sales for May rose 0.1%, which was slightly above economists' forecast for unchanged. Retail sales excluding autos also rose 0.1%, which was slightly below economists' forecast for a 0.2% gain.

Export prices excluding agriculture fell 0.1% in May, while import prices excluding oil fell 0.2%. In April export prices also fell an unrevised 0.1%, while import prices plummeted an unrevised 0.9%.

Stock futures held steady after this morning's economic data was released with S&P futures (sp03m) currently gaining 6.4 points to 1,003.60. NASDAQ futures (nd03m) are higher by 8.0 points at 1,237, while Dow futures are rising 63 points at 9,240.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $-1.20. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.44 and set for program selling at $-2.18.

Later this morning at 10:00 AM, April Business Inventories will be released. Economists are forecasting a 0.2% rise in inventories.

Biopharmaceutical InterMune (NASDAQ:ITMN) $25.10 is this morning's most actively traded stock and falls to $19.25 after the company warned late yesterday that it now sees second-quarter (June) revenues in the range of $30-$33 million. As a result of lower revenues the company is reducing fiscal 2003 (December) revenue guidance from $170-$195 million to $145-$165 million. Consensus was for $182 million annual revenue.

After today's close, software stocks Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE) $35.82 and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) $13.27 are scheduled to release earnings, as is CKE Restaurants (NYSE:CKR) $6.06.

Foreign Markets

Asia/Pacific

Asian markets followed yesterday's trade in the United States and some analysts in the region said that there was increasing optimism among investors that the recent rally in Japan's stock markets might help Japan's economy.

Banks and oil were leadership groups in Europe. Banks were strong on talk of consolidation in the group with Deutshe Bank (NYSE:DB) $67.45 gaining 1.6% in Frankfurt after the Wall Street Journal reported that DB was in talks to take a stake in Russian investment bank United Financial Group.

Hong Kong.......Hang Seng.........9,736....+74.78..+0.78%

Japan...........Nikkei 225........8,918... +28.30..+0.32%

Taiwan..........Taiwan Weighted...4,878....+73.78..+1.54%

Europe

France..........CAC 40............3,165....+43.96..+1.41%

Germany.........DAX...............3,249....+71.81..+2.26%

Russia..........Moscow Times......5,451....+82.71..+1.54%

Switzerland.....Swiss Market......4,884....+44.10..+0.91%

United Kingdom..FTSE 100..........4,182....+32.20..+0.78%

Jeff Bailey

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