Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Cling to Modest Gains Ahead of Fed Decision on Tapering

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Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Wednesday's regular session:

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.02%

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.14%

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ): +0.07%

iShares MSCI Japan Index ( EWJ ): +1.23%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ( VXX ): +0.72%

Broad Market Indicators

Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were choppy, having traded on both sides of unchanged so far on Wednesday. Likewise, PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.46%.

Most U.S. stocks had turned lower, but edged up again in the session's half, as investors continued to await the Federal Reserve's decision at 2 PM ET on whether to reduce its bond-buying program. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will also hold a news conference about the policy decision at 2:30 pm ET. Early upbeat market sentiment was fueled by strong housing data reported earlier - November housing starts rose 22.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million, the highest rate since February 2008.

Power Play: Consumer

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was up 0.29%; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) were mixed.

Among stocks, Ford (F) shares are down nearly 7% after the company said it expects full-year 2013 automotive revenue to grow about 10%, with market share increases in all regions other than Europe, where Ford expects higher retail share of the retail passenger car industry, as well as improved share of the commercial vehicle market. In Asia Pacific Africa and China, the company expects record market shares. Ford now projects that total company full-year pre-tax profit, excluding special items, to be about $8.5 billion, better than 2012 and in line with its most recent outlook. It said it expects 2013 to be one of the best full-year results in its history, with strong revenue growth, market share in all regions improved or equal to last year, total company pre-tax profit of about $8.5 billion, higher Automotive operating-related cash flow than a year ago and a stronger balance sheet.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 0.05%, near its 52-week high. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 0.16%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was up 0.21%.

Among stocks, Realty Income Corp. (O) was down 0.44% after the real-estate investment trust late Tuesday boosted its monthly dividend to $0.1821667 per share, up 0.2% from the previous dividend. The latest dividend is payable Jan. 15 to shareholders of record Jan. 2. The previous monthly dividend had been $0.1818542 per share. The company said this marks its 74th dividend raise since O went public in 1994.

Technology

Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was down 0.49%. Other tech funds iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM) and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV) were mixed.

SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX)were weaker, down 0.80% and 0.57%, respectively - but near their 52-week highs. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.

In sector news, Agilent Technologies (A) was up 1.31% after the bioanalytical and electronic-measurement company said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Nanyang Technological University to collaborate with the university on the development of new solutions for the biological treatment of wastewater. Under the collaboration, Nanyang Technological's Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute will use Agilent's bioanalytical instruments to study the impact of microorganisms, or microbes, in wastewater treatment.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 0.25% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.22%.

In sector news, Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG) was up 3.13% after announcing that its Board of Directors has approved a $940 million 2014 capital expenditure (CAPEX) budget allocated solely to Williston Basin oil and gas activities. The 2014 capital program is expected to drive an approximate 45% increase in year over year production volumes.

Commodities

Crude was up 0.11% and natural gas was down 0.3%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.3%; United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 0.05%.

Gold was down 0.02% and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.07%. Silver was up 0.58% while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.47%.

Healthcare

Health Care SPDR (XLV) and other healthcare funds Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) have turned higher. iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was also firmer, up 0.97%.

Among stocks, Depomed Inc. (DEPO) was up 10.42% after the pharmaceutical company said it has acquired the U.S. rights to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug CAMBIA from Nautilus Neurosciences (NLS) for $48.7 million. In addition, DEPO may pay NLS up to an additional $5 million based on the achievement of certain annual net sales milestones. DEPO expects the acquisition of CAMBIA to be immediately accretive and updated its year-end cash guidance to $272 million.



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 , EWJ , SPY , VXX , XLF

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