Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Thursday's regular session:
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -0.7%
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.1%
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ): +0.6%
ProShares UltraPro Short QQQ ( SQQQ ): -0.6%
iShares MSCI EAFE ETF ( EFA ): +0.2%
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including IWM and IVV were lower. Actively-traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.1%.
US stocks struggled for direction at session's half, vascillating between slight gains and losses as Wall Street digested geopolitical and economic data news both here and abroad.
China earlier reported its February industrial production increased 0.43% month-over-month, below expectations for an increase of 0.54%.
In the UK, lawmakers will now hold a vote for a proposal to request an extension of the scheduled Brexit beyond March 29, after they had voted for a no-deal exit from the European Union on Wednesday afternoon.
Back home, Bloomberg had reported the much-awaited meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President President Xi Jinping will happen much later than expected. The report said the meeting will be delayed until at least April. The news comes a day after Trump told reporters in the White House he was in no rush to finalize a trade deal with China.
Initial unemployment claims rose to 229,000 from expectations of 225,000 in the March 9 week against the 223,000 level in the previous week. Import prices rose 0.6% while export prices also rose 0.6%, respectively, in February after falling in the previous month.
New home sales fell 6.9% to 607,000 in January, versus the 612,000 expected, the Commerce Department said.
Power Play: Consumer
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was down 0.1% and iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) were in the red.
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was down 0.3% and SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) , PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were higher.
Dollar General (DG) was down more than 8% after the discount retailer reported mixed results for its fiscal Q4 with gains in same-store sales but adjusted earnings that missed expectations, sending shares lower. Net sales rose to $6.65 billion from $6.13 billion a year earlier, topping the consensus on Capital IQ for $6.61 billion. Adjusted earnings in the quarter ending Feb. 1 rose to $1.84 a share from $1.48 a year ago, but that was beneath analysts' projections for $1.89 a share. Same-store sales in the period rose 4%, better than the consensus for about 2.7% growth. Gross profit as a percentage of net sales was 31.2% in the period, down from 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2017, with the decrease blamed on markdowns, more sales of lower-margin products including consumables, lower initial markups on inventory purchases and an increase in a last in, first out provision.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 0.7%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 1.6%; Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares (FAZ) was down 1.4%.
PPDAI Group Inc. (PPDF) ADRs rose more than 2% after the company said it posted Q4 net income per diluted ADS of RMB2.4755 ($0.36) after a loss of RMB5.8184 a year earlier, beating Street estimates for $0.25. The company, which operates an online consumer finance marketplace, said revenue in the period climbed to RMB1.21 billion ($175.95 million) from RMB898.88 million in the year-earlier period. The board declared a dividend of $0.19 per ADS for the fiscal year 2018, which is expected to be paid around April 26 to shareholders of record on April 5.
Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was up 0.5%; 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 higher.
Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 0.8%, while Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.02%.
MongoDB (MDB) rose more than 27% after the firm said late Wednesday adjusted net loss narrowed to $0.17 per share in Q4 from $0.27 loss per share a year earlier, as revenue rose 71% to $85.5 million over the same period, based on new accounting method ASC 606. According to the older ASC 605 version, adjusted loss for the quarter narrowed to $0.26 from $0.40, as revenue increased 85% to $83.1 million over the same period. Analysts surveyed by Capital IQ have expected adjusted loss of $0.38 per share on revenue of $74.02 million. For Q1, the company expects adjusted net loss of $0.25 to $0.23 per share on revenue of $82.0 million to $84.0 million, based on ASC 606. CIQ consensus was for adjusted loss of $0.37 on revenue of $74.96 million. For fiscal 2020, it expects adjusted net loss of $1.06 to $0.98 on revenue of $363.0 million to $371.0 million based on ASC 606, against CIQ estimates of $1.28 loss per share on revenue of $347.39 million.
Select Sector SPDR-Industrial (XLI) was down 0.2% and other funds iShares Trust Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector Index Fund (IYJ) and Vanguard Industrials (VIS) were lower.
General Electric (GE) rose nearly 3% after the company issued a lower-than-expected full-year 2019 earnings outlook. The company said it expects adjusted earnings to be between $0.50 to $0.60 per share, and adjusted industrial free cash flows to between negative $2 billion to flat. GE also anticipates non-GAAP industrial segment organic revenue to grow in the low- to mid-single-digit range. GE also said it expects adjusted industrial free cash flows to be positive in 2020, with the pace of improvement accelerating the following year.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 0.3% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.2%.
Equitrans Midstream (ETRN) and EQM Midstream Partners (EQM) said Thursday EQM has entered into a definitive agreement with a fund managed by Morgan Stanley (MS) Infrastructure Partners to acquire a 60% stake in Eureka Midstream Holdings (Eureka Midstream) and a 100% stake in Hornet Midstream Holdings (Hornet Midstream) for a total consideration of $1.03 billion, comprised of about $860 million in cash and about $170 million of assumed pro-rata debt. Eureka Midstream is a 190-mile gathering header pipeline system in Ohio and West Virginia that services both dry Utica and wet Marcellus production, while Hornet Midstream is a 15-mile, high-pressure gathering system in West Virginia that connects to the Eureka system. Combined, the gathering system assets and complementary water services opportunities are anticipated to generate about $100 million of EQM EBITDA during the first 12 months. EQM expects the acquired assets and corresponding water services to achieve greater than 20% annual EBITDA growth over the next several years. The transaction is expected to be neutral to EQM distributable cash flow over the first 12 months and accretive thereafter. The acquisition is expected to close on or about April 15, subject to customary regulatory and other closing conditions. ETRN shares rose 1% and EQM shares rose some 0.3.%.
Crude was up 0.7%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.3%. Natural gas was up 0.6% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.6%.
Gold was down 1.1%, and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 1.3%. Silver was down 1.7% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 1.9%.
Health Care SPDR (XLV) was down 0.1% and other funds iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) were firmer. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 0.2%.
Atossa Genetics (ATOS) shares surged 249% after the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company said the FDA has issued a "safe to proceed" letter under its "expanded access" program permitting the use of the company's oral Endoxifen as a post-mastectomy treatment in a pre-menopausal, "estrogen-receptor positive" (ER+) breast cancer patient. That patient completed a three-week course of Atossa's oral Endoxifen prior to her surgery under an FDA-approved expanded access program, the company said in a statement. The tumor activity from the initial biopsy was compared to the tumor activity at surgery, finding that the cancer cell biological activity was reduced by two measures: the Ki-67 activity decreased by 50%, and the estrogen receptor content decreased by over 20%. There were no safety or tolerability issues, including vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, the company said.