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ETF Preview: ETFs, Futures Higher Ahead of Fed's Interest Rate Decision

Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Wednesday's pre-market session:

SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): +0.6%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +0.6%

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): +0.9%

VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Ipath ( VXX ): -3.2%

PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +0.7%

Broad-Market Indicators

Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were higher. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was up 0.7%.

U.S. stock futures were in positive territory ahead of Wednesday's open and ahead of the Federal Reserve's decision whether or not to increase interest rates. The announcement will be made at 2 p.m. ET and will be followed by a news conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen at 2:30 p.m. ET.

In economic data, November housing starts rose 10.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.173 million versus expectations for a reading of 1.14 million. Housing permits, meanwhile, rose 11% to a pace of 1.289 million, the highest in 5 months.

Still ahead, the November report for industrial production will be released at 9:15 a.m. ET and the December reading for a manufacturing index will be reported at 6:45 a.m. ET.

Power Play: Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were flat. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 0.5%.

Array BioPharma (ARRY) was up 26.6% after it reported top-line results from the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial of its drug binimetinib to treat certain types of melanoma or skin cancer. Array reported the study "met its primary endpoint of improving progression-free survival compared with dacarbazine treatment," and that it plans to seek marketing approval for binimetinib from the FDA in H1 2016. Array reported the anti-melanoma small-molecule drug binimetinib was generally well-tolerated and the adverse events reported were consistent with previous results. The company said binimetinib is also being studied in a phase 3 trial for patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma and also a phase 3 trial for patients with low-grade serous ovarian cancer, as well as in several other earlier stage clinical trials.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was down 0.1%. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.6% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 0.6%.

Barclays PLC (BCS) was up 0.7% after it said it expects to benefit from a GBP480.0 million pretax gain after agreeing to sell its benchmark indices business to Bloomberg LP. Barclays Risk Analytics and Index Solutions Ltd was sold for about GBP520.0 million, the London-listed bank said in a statement, with the deal estimated to boost its CET1 ratio - a key measure of capital and financial strength - by about 10 basis points on proforma basis from the level seen at the end of September. The unit's benchmark indices span global markets covering multiple asset classes, most notably the Barclays family of aggregate bond indices. Barclays will retain its quantitative investment strategy index business, with calculation and maintenance of its strategy indices outsourced to Bloomberg.

Technology

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 inactive. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was also unchanged.

Semiconductor ETFs SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) were flat in pre-market trading .

Constant Contact (CTCT) was down 2.1% after disclosing in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has received a subpoena from the Boston Regional Office of the SEC. The subpoena requires the production of documents pertaining to sales, marketing, and customer retention practices, and periodic public disclosure of financial and operating metrics. Constant Contact said the investigation stems from a class action lawsuit relating to its pending merger with Endurance International Group Holdings (EIGI) and the company is fully cooperating with the SEC's investigation.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was flat and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.1% in the pre-market session.

Plug Power (PLUG) was up 9.4% on media reports that the company is moving forward with its plan to install its infrastructure at a Memphis distribution center in a deal with Nike (NKE). A report from Seeking Alpha cited The Memphis Business Journal which discovered a December 11th building permit listed for Nike. The permit requested "installation of new hydrogen refueling infrastructure foundation at its Memphis distribution center." On May 27 PLUG said it signed a master sales agreement with a "large footwear manufacturer in North America" for deployment of its GenKey hydrogen and fuel cell solution.

Commodities

Crude was down 0.9%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.2%. Natural gas futures were down 0.2%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.4%. Gold was down 0.3% and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 1%. Silver was up 2.8% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 2.4%.

Consumer

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) were inactive.

Consumer Discretionary SPDR (XLY) was down 0.8%; retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were flat.

Mattel (MAT) was up 1.9% after it agreed to collaborate with DHX Media to develop and produce kids' shows based on its toy brands Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Little People, and Polly Pocket. As agreed, the companies will jointly fund, co-develop and co-produce new episodic, short-form, and long-form content for the Mattel properties, designed for a variety of traditional and digital platforms. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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