Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Remain Higher as Investors Digest Bernanke Comments, Plethora of Economic News


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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.34%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ( VXX ): +1%

Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): +0.2%, near 52 week highs.

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.33%

ProShares Trust II ( UVXY ): +1.26%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, continue to log mild gains. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) is down 0.15%.

U.S. stocks are extending their gains into the second half, but have trimmed some following Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony in front of Congress. Market sentiment saw a slight uptick based on Bernanke's comments regarding continued QE or quantitative easing. But the Fed Chair also warned that the U.S. economy would suffer if no compromise is reached regarding the automatic federal budget reductions. Investors noted the inconclusive Italian elections but instead really focused on economic data: January New Home Sales surged 15.6% to an annual rate of 437,000, beating forecasts; the February consumer confidence index also grew, now up 69.6 - the highest level in 3 months. Earlier, the December Case-Shiller 20-city Index was reported to have grown 6.8%, above the forecasts of 6.5% growth, according to Briefing.com, while the December FHA Housing Price Index remained flat at a 0.6% growth.

Winners and Losers

Financial -

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) is up 0.1% and nearer 52 week highs. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) is up 0.6%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, is down 0.6%.

Among financial stocks, Infinity Property and Casualty (IPCC) is up 2% after it reported a Q4 GAAP EPS of $0.67, above the Capital IQ GAAP estimates of $0.24 EPS, if comparable. In the same period last year, the company posted $1.49 EPS. Revenues grew 18.1% to $342.5 mln from $290 mln in the previous year's quarter. This is above the forecasts of $318.79 mln. The company sees FY13 EPS of $2.90 - $3.40, versus the consensus of $2.76.

Technology -

Tech ETFs : Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), up 0.14%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), up 0.13%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM), recovered and now up 0.12%; and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), down 0.12%.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) is down 0.02% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) is up 0.3%.

SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) is flat.

In sector news, shares of Spreadtrum Communications (SPRD) has lost earlier gains and is now down more than 3%. The company posted Q4 non-GAAP diluted EPS of $0.59 on revenue of $203.1 million. The company had previously guided for revenue in the range of $189 - $196 million. The Street was expecting EPS of $0.50 on revenue of $196.33 million. The company says it sees Q1 revenue of $180 million to $186 million, which is ahead of the $171.56 million consensus.

Energy -

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) is up 0.8%; Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) is up 0.8%.

Crude was down 0.72%; natural gas was down 1.14%. United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.15%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) is down 0.05%.

In sector news, Carrizo Oil & Gas (CRZO) is up 6% after it reported Q4 earnings adjusted earnings of $0.46, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.35. Revenues were $107.5 mln, versus the analyst estimate of $105.74 mln. The company posted total production of 2,379 MBoe, or 25,859 Boe/d, with record oil production of 9,033 Bbls/d, and natural gas and NGL production of 100,924 Mcfe/d.

Healthcare -

Healthcare ETFs are weaker or little changed, but still trading in the upper end of their 52 week ranges: Health Care SPDR (XLV), now back up 0.05%; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), now up 0.1%; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), down 0.11%. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) is down 0.24%.

In corporate news, MediciNova (MNOV) is now up more than 50%, nearing its 52-week high, after it received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for MN-166 (ibudilast) for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence.

Consumer -

Consumer ETFs are mixed: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), now up 0.05%; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), down 0.26% and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), down 0.07%.

Retail ETFs are mixed to lower: SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), now up 0.03%; PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR), now up 0.4%; and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH), up 0.48% and has hit 52 week highs.

In sector news, Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) shares are down about 20% as the company reports Q4 2012 adjusted net income of $0.40 per share, up from $0.31 a year prior and on par with the $0.40 per share analysts expected. Net sales in Q4 2012 were $218.9 million compared to $214.9 million in the same period of the prior year, and lower than the $223.9 million analysts had expected. The company expects to open 50 new stores in the year ahead, when it plans for $45 to $50 million in capital expenditures.

Power Play -

Commodities -

Goldman Sachs has reduced its forecasts for gold, saying the precious metal's price cycle has turned due to the increasing momentum in the U.S economy's recovery, according to a report on Bloomberg. Bloomberg stated that Goldman Sachs slashed its three-month target to $1,615 an ounce from $1,825. The firm also lowered the six- and 12-month forecasts to $1,600 and $1,550 from $1,805 and $1,800, respectively.The report also said that analysts at Credit Suisse thought that gold's 12-year bull market has begun to unwind.

Gold was up 1.59%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.10%; iShares Gold Trust (IAU), up 1.16%, and PowerShares DB Gold Fund (DGL), up 1.16%.

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

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
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