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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Higher as Upbeat Philly Manufacturing Data Trump Weak Jobs, Homes Sales Data

By: MT Newswires
Posted: 3/20/2014 1:00:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: SPY;XLF;EEM;EWJ;IWM

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.61%

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ): +1.56%

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.62%

iShares MSCI Japan ETF ( EWJ ): -1.49%

iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): +0.25%

Broad Market Indicators

Most broad market exchange-traded funds were firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.42%.

U.S. stocks were also trading higher at session's half after the report that the Philadelphia index on manufacturing sentiment rose to a reading of 9.0 in March after a sharp decline in the prior month. The Philly manufacturing data outshone the other downbeat economic data reported earlier - the weekly jobless claims rose by 5,000 to 320,000; and existing home sales were down 0.4% in February, its slowest rate since July 2012.

Power Play: Consumer

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) were edging higher.

Among stocks, Herman Miller (MLHR) jumped to a six-year high, up 8.15% after the interior furnishings company reported Q3 sales of $455.9 million, shy of the analyst consensus of $458 million on Capital IQ. EPS was $0.34, in line with expectations. For Q4, the company guides for sales of $485-$505 million and EPS of $0.43-$0.47, vs.the Street view of $486.9 million in revenue and earnings of $0.43 per share.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 1.56%, and near its five-year high. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 2.22%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 2.39%.

Among sector news, virtual banking solutions provider Q2 Holdings (QTWO) was up more than 22% on its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. It priced its 7.8 million shares in an initial public offering at $13 each. The offering consists of 6.25 million shares from the company and 1.51 million from certain stockholders. The shares began trading Thursday, March 20, on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "QTWO."

Technology

Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), 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 weaker. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 1.16%, and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 1.2% - both funds reached record highs.

In stocks news, Comcast (CMCSA) was up 2% after the company published a regulatory filing urging shareholders to vote in favor of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC) and a golden parachute plan. Both TWC and CMCSA have asked investors to vote in favor of the transaction. According to the SEC filing both companies will hold special shareholder meetings to allow investors to vote. TWC shareholders will also vote on the "golden parachute" compensation payments to its executive officers in connection with the merger. Approval of the "golden parachute" compensation proposal is not a condition to completion of the merger. CMCSA shareholders will be asked to approve the necessary stock issuance in connection with the merger.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) were both firmer.

In corporate news, Walter Energy (WLT) was down 15% to multi-year lows Thursday after Bank of America Merrill Lynch reiterated its underperform rating and cut the target price to $2 from $8. The price cut is based on expectations for coal supply and demand fundamentals to be depressed for the next several years because of excess supply, substitute resources, and other factors. The analyst call came after the company said on Wednesday it had doubled the size of its 5-year 9.5% senior secured note sale to $200 million. The sale is alongside $350 million in second lien PIK toggle notes due in 2020.

Commodities

Crude was down 1.04%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.81%. Natural gas was down 1.88%; United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 1.76%.

Gold was down 0.74% and silver was down 1.97%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.15%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.86%.

Healthcare

Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were in the red. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 0.7%.

In corporate news, ZIOPHARM Oncology (ZIOP) was up more than 11% and earlier reached a new 52-week high after the biotechnology company said Francois Lebel, senior vice president of clinical development and medical operations, will present at an industry conference next week. The event is the 21st Annual Future Leaders in the Biotech Industry Conference, to take place in New York. Lebel will make his presentation on Friday, March 28, at 3:00 p.m. ET. Investors appeared optimistic for what Lebel will say in the presentation.