Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Higher as Possible OfficeMax, Office Depot Merger Offset Disappointing Homebuilder Data
Active broad-market exchange-traded funds at mid-day:
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.51%, touching a new 52-week high
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.41%
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ( VXX ): -2.73%, with a new 52-week low
Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): +0.82%, hit new 52-week highs
iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ): +1.49%
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, are firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) is up 0.40%.
U.S. stocks are higher, lifted by news of a possible merger between Office Depot (ODP) and OfficeMax (OMX), whose shares continue to log gains in the session. The National Association of Homebuilders February index was at a reading of 46, missing expectations of 48, according to Briefing.com. Earnings remain in focus, with Dell (DELL) and Herbalife (HLF) set to release their results in the after hours session.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) is up 0.82%, with a new 52-week high of $17.92. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) is up 1.79%, with a new 52-week high of $155.52. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, is down 1.63%, with a new 52-week low of $11.40.
Among financial stocks, American International Group Inc. (AIG) is up 0.91%. The company commenced cash tender offers for the maximum principal or liquidation amount of certain of AIG's junior subordinated debentures denominated in sterling and euros tendered up to an aggregate purchase price of $325 million; certain of AIG's junior subordinated debentures denominated in U.S. dollars tendered up to an aggregate purchase price of $650 million; and the capital securities issued by three statutory trusts controlled by SunAmerica Financial Group Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AIG (SAFG), that hold junior subordinated debentures issued by SAFG and guaranteed by AIG and senior debentures originally issued by SunAmerica Inc. and assumed by AIG, tendered up to an aggregate purchase price of $275 million.
Tech ETFs are firmer: Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), up 0.40%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), up 0.40%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM), up 0.50%, with a new 52-week high of $71.81; and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), up 0.37%.
Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) is up 1.10% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) is up 0.77%.
SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) is flat.
In sector news, Yandex (YNDX) is down 9.46% after the company reported Q4 earnings of $0.26 per share, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.28. Revenues were $290.4 mln, versus the analyst estimate of $285.75 mln. The company said it expects to achieve full-year ruble-based revenue growth of 28% to 32% in 2013, on a like-for-like basis, excluding the revenue associated with Yandex.Money from 2012 and 2013 results
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) is up 0.67% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) is up 0.78%, nearing its 52-week high.
In sector news, Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) is up 3.38% after the company said it has signed a multi-year agreement with Chromatin, Inc., a provider of crop breeding technology, sorghum seed products, to produce, deliver and use locally grown sorghum in the production of ethanol. The agreement will cover up to 30,000 acres of Chromatin sorghum to be grown over multiple years and supplied to PEIX.
Crude was down 1.67%; Natural gas was up 2.79%. United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.14%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) is up 3.21%.
Gold was down 1.98% and silver was down 3.01%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.30%; iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ) is down 1.56%.
Healthcare ETFs are in positive territory and posting new 52-week highs: Health Care SPDR (XLV), up 0.35%, with a new 52-week high of $43.58; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), up 0.35%, also touching a new 52-week high of $78.26; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), up 0.33%, reaching a new 52-week high of $91.13. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) is down 0.36%.
In corporate news, Novogen (NVGN) is steady higher, now up 135.02%, trimming earlier gains of some 150%. Results from the company's clinical trial of drug CS-6 showed that the experimental anti-ovarian cancer drug was highly active against ovarian cancer stem cells.
Power Play -
Consumer ETFs are higher, touching new 52-week highs: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), up 0.80, with a new 52-week high of 37.96; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), up 0.64% with a new 52-week high of $81.94; and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), up 0.83%, with a new 52-week high of $95.63.
In M&A news, OfficeMax (OMX) and Office Depot (ODP) are still surging higher following a Wall Street Journal report yesterday that the two companies are in advanced talks to merge. The report says the deal is expected to be stock-for-stock, though precise terms couldn't be learned, including what percentage of a merged group shareholders of each company would own. OMX is up 22.23%, with a new 52-week high of $14.08, while ODP is up 11.87% with a new 52-week high of $6.10.