Active broad-market exchange-traded funds ahead of Thursday's regular session:
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +1.5%
VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX ): +1.4%
iShares China Large-Cap ETF ( FXI ): +2.3%
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.4%
Invesco QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +0.6%
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including IWM and IVV were higher. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was up 0.6%.
US stock futures were pointing higher ahead of the opening bell, following recent developments in the trade dispute between the US and China. Late Wednesday, the Trump administration offered to renew trade negotiations with China to avert the additional tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese exports.
In economic data news, the consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.2% in August -- the fifth straight increase. Expectations were for a 0.3% gain. The core rate of inflation, which strips out food and energy, rose 0.1%.
Meanwhile, the weekly jobless claims report showed a drop of 1,000 to 204,000 versus forecasts for a 210,000 reading -- near a 49-year low. Continuing claims declined by 15,000 to 1.7 million -- sinking to the lowest level since the end of 1973.
Looking ahead, the EIA domestic natural gas inventories report will be released at 10:30 am ET.
For Fed-watchers, Vice Chairman Randal Quarles speaks at 10 am, followed by Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic at 12:30 pm.
Power Play: Health Care
Health Care SPDR (XLV) and other health care funds Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were inactive. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 0.03%.
Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) fell more than 21% after it said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the goal date for its review of a new drug application on Inbrija to Jan. 5, 2019 from Oct. 5, 2018. This extension is related to recent submissions Acorda made in response to requests from FDA for additional information on chemistry, manufacturing and controls. The FDA determined that these submissions constitute a major amendment and will take additional time to review. Inbrija is a therapy in development for the treatment of symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease taking a carbidopa/levodopa regimen.
Winners and Losers
The Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was inactive. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.5% and its bearish counterpart Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X shares (FAZ) was down 0.6% in pre-market trading .
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) fell more than 4% after the real-estate investment trust said that its board set out a Q3 dividend of $0.11 per share, payable Oct. 19 to stockholders of record as of Sept. 28. The payout is down sequentially from a dividend declared in June of $0.14 per share.
Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was up 0.5% and other tech funds 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 inactive.
Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) were flat.
Apple (AAPL) rose more than 1% after the company's the formal introduction Wednesday afternoon of new versions of its iPhone and smart watches at the company's annual product event. The new iPhone XS and XS Max models will feature larger screens, measuring 5.8 and 6.5 inches, respectively, and cost $999 and $1,099 when they become available for pre-order in the United States, Canada and the UK on Friday. The redesigned iWatch now includes GPS and an ECG and EKG sensor in addition to other health features and will start at $399, rising to $499 for the model with GPS and cellular capabilities.
Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was inactive and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.4% in the pre-market session.
Just Energy (JE) said it has entered into a $250 million multi-draw senior unsecured term loan. The loan will bear interest at 8.75% per year and will mature on Sept. 12, 2023. The company plans to use proceeds to fund a tender offer for its outstanding $150 million convertible unsecured subordinated bonds due July 2019, for general corporate purposes, and for future acquisitions.
Crude was down 1.2%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 1.1%. Natural gas was up 0.3% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.6%.
Gold was up 0.1%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.02%. Silver was down 0.2%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was flat.
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was down 1.1% and other funds Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) were flat.
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was up 0.3% and retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were inactive in pre-market trade.
The Kroger Co. (KR) fell nearly 8% as the supermarket operator posted fiscal Q2 adjusted earnings of $0.41 per share, up from $0.39 in the comparable period a year ago and topping the estimate of $0.38 from analysts polled by Capital IQ. For the quarter ended Aug. 18 total revenue of $27.87 billion was up from $27.60 billion in the comparable period a year ago and missed the Street projection of $27.95 billion. Kroger affirmed full-year adjusted EPS guidance in the range of $2.00 to $2.15, straddling the Street estimate of $2.12. The company updated GAAP EPS guidance to a range of $3.88 to $4.03 per share from its previous range of $3.64 to $3.79. The company said it continues to expect identical sales growth, excluding fuel, to range from 2% to 2.5% for the full year. Kroger reported $122.66 billion in revenue for 2017.