Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs Firmer, Stocks Weaken as 4-Month High Jobless Claims Mar BOJ's Aggressive Bond Program
Active broad market exchange-traded funds at mid-day:
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.18%, near its 52-week high
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): -0.71%
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ( VXX ): +1.57%
Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): +0.33%, also near its 52-week high
iShares MSCI Japan Index ( EWJ ): +3.87%, with a new 52-week high of $10.91
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, continued to log modest gains. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.20%.
U.S. stocks remained in negative territory after downbeat jobs data overshadowed more positive news from Japan and Europe. The Labor Department reported that new claims for unemployment benefits rose 28,000 to a four-month high of 385,000. Forecasts had pegged claims to decline from 357,000 in the prior week. Continuing claims, on the other hand, dropped by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.06 million in the week.
Earlier, investors lauded news that the Bank of Japan launched a more aggressive and open-ended bond purchase program, while the European Central Bank announced that it will leave its key lending rate unchanged at 0.75%. However, ECB President Mario Draghi's comments that the euro-zone's second half growth could be less than expected, also weighed on market sentiment.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 0.33%, near its 52-week high. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 1.03%, with a new 52-week high of $54.05. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 1.21%, touching a new 52-week low of $42.61.
Among financial stocks, Deutsche Bank (DB) turned negative, down 0.59% after logging modest gains following a Reuters report saying the bank is under investigation by Germany's Bundesbank and financial watchdog Bafin over allegations that it failed to correctly value a derivatives portfolio.
Tech ETFs were mixed at mid-day: Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), down 0.22%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), down 0.47%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM), down 0.38%; and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), down 0.50%.
Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 0.36%; likewise, Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.73%.
SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was down 0.52%, with a new 52-week low of $26.98.
In sector news, pSivida Corp. (PSDV) was down 1.33%, reversing earlier gains of nearly 11%. It earlier announced that it signed a funded technology evaluation agreement with a global pharmaceutical company. The agreement will evaluate pSivida's proprietary Durasert and Tethadur technologies for this pharmaceutical company's select products in ophthalmology.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) were each down 0.30%.
In sector news, Midstates Petroleum Company, Inc. (MPO) tumbled 7.72% after announcing that it signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire producing properties as well as developed and undeveloped acreage in the Anadarko Basin in Texas and Oklahoma for $620 million in cash. The reserve life of the assets being acquired is about 12.5 years.
Crude was down 1.89%; natural gas was up 0.56%. United States Oil Fund
(USO) was down 1.81%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.42%.
Gold was down 0.26% and nearing its 52-week low of $1,539. Silver was also lower, down 0.04%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.62%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.77%.
Consumer ETFs were higher, nearing their 52-week highs: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), up 0.35%; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), up 0.58%; and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), up 0.34%.
In sector news, International Speedway (ISCA) edged higher, up 0.52% at last check and touched a new 52-week high of $33.53, after the company reported Q1 earnings of $0.33 per share, ex one-time items, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.36. Revenues were $128.6 million, versus the analyst estimate of $127.7 million. The company reaffirms FY13 guidance of $1.35 - $1.55 EPS on revenues of $610 million - $625 million. The Street view is EPS of $1.46 on revenues of $620.42 million.
Power Play -
Healthcare ETFs were mostly higher: Health Care SPDR (XLV), up 0.17%, with a new 52-week high of $46.92; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), flat, nearing its 52-week high; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), up 0.06%, also nearing its 52-week high. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB), on the other hand, was lower, down 0.31%.
In corporate news, CombiMatrix (CBMX) trimmed earlier gains of around 27%, and was up 14.45% at last check, after the company reported preliminary quarterly growth in prenatal testing volumes of 124% for the first quarter. CombiMatrix, a molecular diagnostics company performing DNA-based testing services for developmental disorders and cancer diagnostics, announced that it expects to report record volumes of prenatal testing in Q1.
The company said its rapid growth in prenatal testing was the result of its strategic shift in mid-2012 to focus resources primarily on the prenatal molecular diagnostic testing markets where it sees chromosomal micro-array analysis becoming the standard of care.