Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs Higher, Stocks Rally Following Better-Than-Expected Home-Sales Data

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Active broad-market exchange-traded funds at mid-day:

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +1%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ( VXX ): -5.7%

Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): +1.2%, near 52 week highs.

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.7%

iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): +1%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, are mostly firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) is up 1%.

U.S. stocks are higher, rallying on the report that pending home sales rose 4.5% in January - the highest level since April 2010, according to MarketWatch. Also helping lift market sentiment, Fed Chair Bernanke, in his testimony before Congress, reiterated the central bank's continuing support for its bond buying program. The upbeat home sales data and Bernanke's comments offset the earlier report that January durable goods orders decreased by 5.2%, worse than the 3.5% decrease economists had expected, according to Briefing.com. Excluding transportation related items, durable goods orders increased by 1.9%, above the 0.2% growth forecasts. A number of retailers are in focus following their earnings reports, such as J.C. Penney (JCP), Target (TGT) and Dollar Tree (DLTR).

Winners and Losers

Financial -

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) is up 1.15%, near its 52-week high. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) is up 3.1%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, is down 3.1% and near 52 week lows.

Among financial stocks, Starwood Property Trust (STWD) is up 4% and earlier touched a new year high of $27.71 after it reported Q4 diluted EPS of $0.48, up from $0.42 a year prior. The Street was looking for EPS of $0.42.

Technology -

Tech ETFs are firmer at mid-day: Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), up 0.7%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), up 0.6%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM), up 1%; and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), up 1.4%.

Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) is up 1.4% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) is up 1.6%. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) is up 0.29% and nearer to 52 week highs.

In sector news, Guidewire (GWRE) is now up near 20% and near 52 week highs after the company late Tuesday reported Q2 revenues of $72.2 mln, vs. the analyst consensus of $64.2 mln on Capital IQ. EPS was $0.21, well ahead of expectations of $0.02 per share.

Energy -

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) is up 1.3% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) is up 1.2%.

In sector news, First Solar Inc. (FSLR) is down 15% at $26.70 but above a day low $25.50. The company reported $1.1 bln in Q4 net sales, up 62% from the the year-ago quarter but trailing analyst forecasts by around $220 mln. Net income for the quarter was $2.04 per share, ahead of estimates for $1.76. For Q1, the company says it sees EPS of $0.70-$0.90 on revenue of $650 to $750 million. The Street is at EPS of $0.89 on revenue of $826.87 million.

Commodities -

April crude is up 0.01%; May natural gas is down 0.29%. United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.4%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) is up 2.2%.

April gold is down 0.63% and silver for May delivery is down 0.61%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.1%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 1.2%.

Healthcare -

Healthcare ETFs are in the green: Health Care SPDR (XLV), up 0.9% and nearer to 52 week highs; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), up 1% and also nearer 52 week highs; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), up 0.9%. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) is up 1.3%.

In corporate news, Zogenix (ZGNX) shares are soaring 33% higher at $1.62 but are off a day high $1.87 after the company said earlier it will likely not receive an action letter by the FDA regarding approval for its Zohydro ER drug will likely be delayed past the goal date of March 1. Under the performance goals set by the FDA under PDUFA, the agency can miss the prescribed goal date for approximately 10% of the NDAs that are submitted each year and still meet the performance goals for review of priority and standard applications. The FDA has not provided Zogenix with information as to the reason for the possible delay, but has indicated that the delay would likely be brief and may last only several weeks.

Power Play -

Consumer -

Consumer ETFs are firmer: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), up 0.5% to near 52 week highs; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), up 0.5%; and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), also up 0.5%.

Retail ETFs are also higher: SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), up 1.7%; PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR), up 0.66%; and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH), up 1%, with a new year high of $46.42.

In sector news, Dollar Tree (DLTR) is now up 11.5% following the company's report that Q4 sales were $2.25 bln, in line with the analyst consensus on Capital IQ. EPS was $1.01, vs. expectations of $0.99 per share. For Q1, the company estimates sales for the first quarter of 2013 to be in the range of $1.84 billion to $1.89 billion, based on low single-digit positive comparable-store sales and 6.8% square footage growth. Diluted earnings per share are expected to be in the range of $0.53 to $0.58. The Street view is $1.86 bln in sales and EPS of $0.58. For the full year, the company estimates sales will range from $7.79 billion to $7.97 billion. This estimate is based on low single-digit positive comparable-store sales, and square footage growth of approximately 7.3% for the year. Fiscal year 2013 diluted earnings per share are expected to be in the range of $2.54 to $2.74. The Street view is $7.9 bln in sales and earnings of $2.81 per share.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: EEM , IWM , SPY , VXX , XLF

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