Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Wednesday's regular session:
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -1.7%
SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): -0.2%
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): -0.1%
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX ): +1.6%
ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF ( UVXY ): +3%
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were weaker. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.1%.
US stocks continued to trade in the red, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 have retreating back into negative territory after President Trump warned that a government shutdown "could happen." A sell-off in the energy sector, brought on by bearish inventory data, also weighed on stocks.
The latest data on the labor market added to early losses but stocks bottomed out after third quarter non-farm productivity and labor costs data. The private sector added 190,000 new jobs in November, slightly above expectations, but slower than the pace of job creation the month prior; non-farm productivity was an unrevised +3.0% in the third quarter, but unit labor costs were down 0.2%.
Power Play: Consumer
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) were firmer.
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) and retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were in the red.
Fred's (FRED) shares plunged more than 19.3% to their lowest level since 1997 on Wednesday after the operator of general merchandise and pharmacy stores reported worse-than-expected fiscal Q3 results and as the company cancelled its dividend and said it is reviewing options for non-core assets. The company had a quarterly loss of $1.38 per share, down from a loss of $1.05 a year ago. Excluding special items, net loss would have been $0.42 per share. Capital IQ provided a Street estimate of $0.13 loss per share. Net sales for the quarter ended Oct. 28 were $493.6 million, down from $516.6 million Street estimate. The Street estimate was for $499.8 million. Separately, the company said its board has cancelled the company's quarterly cash dividend to retain free cash flow for debt reductions, share repurchases and other general corporate purposes, and amended its stock repurchase program allowing for the repurchase of up to 3.8 million shares of its class A voting common stock.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was down 0.1%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 0.1% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was up 0.03%.
H&R Block (HRB) shares jumped nearly 8% to the highest since mid-August after it reported a narrower loss per share for fiscal Q2 than analysts had estimated and its revenue for the quarter topped analyst forecasts. Its loss per share from continuing operations for the quarter ended Oct. 31 was $0.71 compared with a loss per share of $0.67 a year earlier, the Kansas City, Missouri-based tax preparation company, said. That compared with an average forecast from Wall Street analysts of a loss of $0.72 per share in a Capital IQ poll. Revenue totaled $141 million, increasing from $131 million a year earlier, the company said Wednesday. Analysts had expected $131.2 million on average.
Tech funds Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), 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.
Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 0.3% while Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was down 0.3%.
Juniper Networks (JNPR) shares edged up 1% after the company said that digital technology services firm UST Global has selected its cloud-grade solutions for its new Trivandrum, India campus, helping to free up IT resources in its data center infrastructure. Separately, Ireland's Marine Institute, which is responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation, has selected the company's software-defined secure networks platform to protect mission-critical environmental data gathered through research vessel surveys, remote sensors and a new subsea observatory. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was down 1.3% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 1.2%.
Exxon-Mobil (XOM) was fractionally lower following reports it has asked the Massachusetts Supreme Court to block an order seeking company documents as part of a state investigation into any documents the energy major may have on the impact of fossil fuels on the environment and climate.
Crude was down 2.4%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 2.4%. Natural gas was down 0.4% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 0.3%
Gold was up 0.1%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.2%. Silver was down 0.6%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 1.1%.
Health care funds Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), were higher. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 1.6%.
NovaBay Pharmaceuticals (NBY) fell 8.6% after it said Lewis Stuart has been appointed as chief commercial officer. Stuart joined NovaBay on Dec. 1 and brings more than 30 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience, according to a statement. Prior to NovaBay, Stuart was vice president, US Oncology for Genomic Health, where he led the marketing, sales and medical affairs teams for their oncology franchise.