Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs Track Stocks Higher as Yellen Remarks Lift Sentiment; Investors Mull Mixed Econ Data

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

SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): +0.41%, earlier hit 52-week high

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +1.03%

iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): -0.21%, earlier hit new 52-week highs

PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +0.02%, with a new 52-week high

Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ): +2.20%

Broad Market Indicators

Many broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others mostly higher, and earlier reached or neared fresh 52-week highs. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was up 0.02%, with a new 52-week high.

U.S. stocks continued to post gains in the session's half as fears of a sooner-than-expected tapering of the Federal Reserve's bond buying program were assuaged by remarks from Janet Yellen, following her confirmation hearing at the Senate. Market sentiment remained optimistic even as investors digested mixed economic data releases. The weekly U.S. jobless claims edged lower, down to 339,000 - but were slightly off economists' forecasts. U.S. productivity grew by 1.9% annual rate in Q3, an improvement from the prior period but also missing expectations. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit increased more than expected.

Power Play: Technology

Technology ETFs and stocks are weaker at session's half, underperforming the modest gains of the broader market. Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was down 0.44%, but earlier hit a new 52-week high; 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 all edging lower, after touching new 52-week highs.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) saw sharper losses, but were still at the higher end of their 52-week ranges. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) also slipped, but was near its 52-week high.

Among stocks, Cisco Systems (CSCO) was steadily lower, 12.23% at last check after the company provided fiscal Q2 and 2014 guidance that was well below analyst estimates. Management guided Q2 revenue down 8% - 10% year-over-year and earnings of $0.45 - $0.47 (versus consensus of $0.52). The company also introduced FY14 earnings of $1.95 - $2.05, well below the average consensus estimate of $2.11. CSCO reported Q1 EPS of $0.53, vs. the analyst consensus of $0.51 per share on Capital IQ. Revenue was $12.1 billion, vs. expectations of $12.34 billion.

Winners and Losers

Financial -

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.65%, with a fresh new 52-week high. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 1.87%, also with a new 52-week high. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 1.93% after sinking to a new 52-week low.

Among financial stocks, Kingstone Companies (KINS) was up nearly 6% after the property and casualty insurance products provider reported Q3 net operating income of $1.6 million or $0.44 per share, up from the prior-year period's $405,000 or $0.12 per share. The company's board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.04 per share payable on Dec. 13 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Nov. 29.

Energy -

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) were firmer, both reaching new 52-week highs earlier.

In sector news, Helmerich & Payne (HP) was up 1.55% after it reported Q4 earnings of $1.47 per share, ex one-time items, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $1.41. Revenues were $864.54 million, versus the analyst estimate of $848.37 million. HP also announced that it has signed agreements with three exploration and production companies to build and operate six additional FlexRigs in the U.S. All of these rigs were ordered under multi-year term contracts and are expected to generate attractive economic returns for the company.

Commodities -

Crude was down 0.10%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.12%. Meanwhile, natural gas was also down 0.08%, and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 0.23%.

Gold was up 1.56%, and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 1.3%. Silver was up 1.63%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 1.31%.

Healthcare

Health Care SPDR (XLV) was up 7%, and earlier reached a new 52-week high. Likewise, Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were also in the green, both touching fresh new 52-week highs. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 0.3%.

Among stocks, Epizyme (EPZM) is down 41.16% at an all-time low after the company reported the initial findings in its ongoing dose escalation study of EPZ-5676 DOT1L inhibitor, which is being developed for the treatment of acute leukemia with alterations in the MLL gene. The company reported that the safety, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and treatment effects observed in the study are consistent with its pre-clinical data. There were no dose-limiting toxicities observed in the study; however, the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) not reached. The company nevertheless said it plans to initiate the MLL-r only Phase 1 expansion stage in December 2013 and pediatric MLL-r and MLL-PTD studies in early 2014.

Consumer -

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was up 0.72%, after reaching a new 52-week high; Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) were also higher, and both touched new 52-week highs as well.

Among stocks, Dillard's (DDS) was up 2.29% after posting late Wednesday Q3 EPS of $1.13 on revenue of $1.47 billion. The Street was looking for EPS of $1.06 on revenue of $1.50 billion.



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 , GDX , IWM , QQQ , SPY

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