Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Edge Higher on Jobless Claims Data, Hopes For Fiscal Talks Progress

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.07%

PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +0.4%

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.38%

iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): +0.05%

Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): flat

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, are modestly firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) is up 0.4%.

U.S. stocks are slightly higher, boosted by a report that weekly jobless-claims declined 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000. Market sentiment found some support from ECB President Mario Draghi's announcement that the ECB will maintain current interest rates although he also said Europe's economic woes will continue into the second half of 2013. In U.S. fiscal talks, President Obama suggested that Republicans might budge in their opposition to higher tax rates on high-income earners. But investors are still cautious on the issue of the so-called 'fiscal cliff'. They are now also turning their focus to the November nonfarm payrolls report, which will be released this Friday.

Winners and Losers

Technology -

Tech ETFs are firmer: Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), up 0.56%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), up 0.57%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM); up 0.65%; and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), up 0.2%.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) is up 1.1% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) is up 0.7%.

SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) is up 0.35%.

In sector news, Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) is up more than 9% and nearer the stock's year high after the company announced its strategic alliance with AT&T (T), in which the companies will deliver a global suite of content delivery network (CDN) solutions to companies. AT&T shares are down 0.65%.

Energy -

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) is down 0.12% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) is down 0.04%.

In sector news, Ivanhoe Energy (IVAN) is up more than 10% and moving further away from 52 week lows after announcing that Chinese regulators have approved the transfer of its participating interest in an exploration and production contract for the Zitong Block of the Sichuan Basin to a Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) subsidiary. The Nov. 28 decision sets the stage for IVAN to increase its pre-tax working capital by $105 million. RDS.A shares are up 0.2%.

Commodities -

Crude was down 2.16%; natural gas was also lower, down 1.57%. United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 2% but United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) has turned up.

Gold was up 0.32%; silver was up 0.51%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.3%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.5%.

Healthcare -

Healthcare ETFs are mostly lower: Health Care SPDR (XLV), down 0.2%; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), now down 0.1%; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), down 0.07%. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) is down 0.39%.

In corporate news, Hi-Tech Pharmacal (HITK) is now up 13% after it reported Q2 earnings of $0.66 per share, ex one-time items, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.56. Revenues were $57.54 mln, versus the analyst estimate of $55.79 mln. In the same period last year, the company reported EPS of $1.04 on revenues of $56.86 mln.

Consumer -

Consumer ETFs are mostly higher: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), up 0.1%, nearing year highs; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), slightly lower; and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), up 0.14%.

Retail ETFs are firmer: SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), up 0.35%; PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR), up 0.7%; and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH), up 0.3% and posting a new 52 week high.

In sector news, Vera Bradley, Inc. (VRA) is down 12% after it reported that in Q3, it earned $0.44 per diluted share on revenues of $138.3 million. According to Yahoo Finance, analysts were expecting VRA to earn $0.60 per share on revenues of $158.65 million.

Power Play -

Financial -

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) is up 0.2%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) is up 0.4%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, is down 0.4%.

Among financial stocks, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and Epoch Holding Corporation (EPHC), including its subsidiary Epoch Investment Partners, Inc., have signed a definitive agreement under which Epoch will be acquired by TD Bank Group for approximately $668 million, in an all-cash transaction. Epoch Holding Corporation shareholders will receive $28.00 in cash per share, representing a premium of approximately 28% to Epoch's closing price on December 5, 2012. EPHC shares are now up 26.5%, near the year high of $27.87, while TD shares are down 2% .



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 , QQQ , SPY , XLF

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