Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs Weaker, Stocks In the Red as March ISM, ADP Jobs Data Miss Forecasts
Active broad market exchange-traded funds at mid-day:
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): -0.75%, but near its 52-week high
Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): -1.26%, also near its 52-week high
iShares MSCI Japan Index ( EWJ ): +0.05%, near its 52-week high
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): -1.04%
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ( VXX ): +1.52%, with a new 52-week low of $19.56
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, have turned weaker. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.56%.
U.S. stocks continued to decline, settling firmly into negative territory at session's half, after the ADP data on private payrolls showed that 158,000 private-sector jobs were added in March, much less than the 215,000 jobs expected by economists polled by MarketWatch. In the prior month, ADP reported a 198,000 rise in private-sector jobs. March ISM services data also missed forecasts, coming in at 54.4, and down from February's reading of 56.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was down 1.26%, but near its 52-week high. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 3.59%, but earlier hit a new 52-week high of $55.35. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was up 3.58%, with a 52-week high of $41.73.
Among financial stocks, HSBC (HBC) was down 1.04% after it said it entered into an agreement to sell its group term life insurance and group medical insurance portfolios in Singapore to AXA Life Insurance Singapore Private Limited. Terms were not disclosed, but the gross asset value of these portfolios was approximately $19.3 million at 31 December 2012.
Tech ETFs were mixed to weaker: Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), down 0.43%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), down 0.47%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM), down 0.15% and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), down 1.02%.
Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 1.52% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was down 1.58%.
SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.
In sector news, Local Corporation (LOCM) climbed 8.19% after it said Wednesday that it expects Q1 revenues of $21.7 million, up 4% from the prior quarter. Analysts polled by Capital IQ had been expecting revenues of $22.20 million. The company also expects to report positive cash provided by operating activities in Q1, one quarter earlier than anticipated.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was down 1.67%. Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) slipped lower, down 1.74%.
In sector news, BP (BP) was down 0.5%, reversing earlier modest gains. A report from Reuters stated that the oil and gas giant has put its U.S. wind farm operation, one of the largest in the country, up for sale. The operation could be worth up to $1.5 billion, the report added, although BP reportedly would not put a value on any sale.
Crude oil futures slipped to session lows earlier following weekly inventory data, which showed an increase of 2.7 million barrels from the previous week. Crude was down 1.96%; natural gas was down 0.86%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 1.9%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 0.83%.
Gold was down 0.93%. Silver was also lower, down 1.3%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 1.08%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 1.33%.
Consumer ETFs reversed earlier gains to trade lower at mid-day: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), down 0.67%, with a new 52-week high of $40.27; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), down 0.80%, nearing its 52-week high; and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), down 0.78%, with a new 52-week high of $101.90.
In sector news, ConAgra Foods (CAG) pared its losses and was down 0.98% after it reported Q3 earnings of $0.55 per share, ex one-time items, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.56. Revenues were $3.85 billion, versus the analyst estimate of $3.91 billion. The company reaffirmed its FY13 EPS outlook of $2.15, in line with the analyst estimate of $2.15 EPS.
Power Play -
Healthcare ETFs have turned lower after hitting new 52-week highs: Health Care SPDR (XLV), down 0.30%, but with a new 52-week high of $46.87; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), down 0.45%, also with a new 52-week high of $84.22; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), down 0.44%, with a new 52-week high of $98.13. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 1.07%, with a new 52-week high of $163.46.
In corporate news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX) was down 0.16% after it announced earlier that it has increased its offer to acquire Obagi Medical Products (OMPI) from $19.75 to $24.00 per share in cash. The expiration date of the tender offer will remain midnight, New York City time, on April 23, 2013. OMPI shares were up 9.62%, touching a new 52-week high of $25.27.