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ETF Preview: ETFs, Futures Higher as Trade Tensions Ease; Street Digests Trade Deficit Data

Active broad-market exchange-traded funds ahead of Wednesday's regular session:

iShares Inc iShares MSCI Brazil ETF ( EWZ ): -0.6%

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): -0.3%

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.3%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +1.1%

VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short Term ETN ( TVIX ): -2.6%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were higher. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.2%.

US stock futures were higher ahead of the opening bell, as trade tensions eased following comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had reportedly urged President Donald Trump to exempt Canada from metals tariffs. In addition, China had reportedly said it would buy about $70 billion of U.S. goods in an effort to convince the US not to impose tarriffs of Chinese goods.

In economic data news, the US trade deficit fell 2.1% to $46.2 billion in April -- a seven-month low, from a revised $47.2 billion in March. Forecasts had called for a $48.8 billion gap. Exports edged up 0.3% to a record $211.2 billion while imports slipped by 0.2% to $257.4 billion.

US productivity rose a 0.4% annual pace in Q1, revised from the initially reported 0.7%. Unit-labor costs, meanwhile, rose by 2.9%, slightly higher than the preliminary 2.7% estimate.

Power Play: Consumer

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

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 inactive in pre-market territory.

Vera Bradley (VRA) rose nearly 9% after it reported slightly better-than-expected Q4 results, issued in-line guidance on Q1 and FY sales and forecast a narrower-than-expected EPS loss for Q1. Q4 adjusted EPS was $0.33, up from $0.28 a year earlier and a penny better than the consensus. Revenue slipped to $132.0 million from $134.8 million in the year-ago quarter but narrowly beat the $130.0 million average estimate. For Q1, Vera Bradley expects an adjusted loss of $0.08 to $0.10 per share with revenue of $84 million to $89 million. Analysts are expecting an adjusted loss of $0.13 per share and revenue of $89.1 million. For FY19, the company expects adjusted EPS of $0.35 to $0.45 per share and revenue of $405 million to $425 million. Analysts are forecasting adjusted EPS of $0.47 and revenue of $415.4 million.

Winners and Losers

Financial

The Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was flat. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.6% and its bearish counterpart Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X shares (FAZ) was down 0.7%.

Invesco (IVZ) said it has acquired United Kingdom-based Intelliflo, a provider of advisor-focused digital solutions. Intelliflo's Intelligent Office software platform supports the business of approximately 30% of UK financial advisors and has become the backbone of the UK wealth sector, Invesco said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Technology

Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) 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 both flat.

Twitter ( TWTR ) fell some 2% after it reported it plans to privately issue $1.0 billion of convertible senior notes due in 2024, and also expects to grant buyers a 30-day option to purchase up to another $150.0 million of the notes. The notes will be unsecured, senior obligations of Twitter. The interest rate, initial conversion rate and other terms of the notes are to be determined.

Energy

Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was flat and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.1%.

ADRs of BHP Billiton (BHP, BBL) were trading 2% higher after media reports said the natural resources giant received first-round bids for its US shale portfolio, valuing it between $7 billion and $9 billion. Sources close to the matter said oil majors including BP (BP), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) and Chevron (CVX) submitted early bids for the assets. Sources also said multiple parties, including Apollo Global Management (APO) and energy firms made bids for individual packages of shale real estate being sold by BHP. BHP would favor selling the portfolio to a single party and plans to hold second-round bids as soon as July, sources added.

Commodities

Crude was down 0.4%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.3%. Natural gas was up 0.03% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.1%.

Gold was down 0.2%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.03%. Silver was up 0.3%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.5%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV) and other health care funds Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were flat. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was inactive.

Precipio (PRPO) surged nearly 18% after the company said early Wednesday that US patent No. 9,957,556 was awarded to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the licensor of its Ice-Cold PCR DNA enrichment platform, and to scientific advisory board member Gerassimos Makrigiorgos. The agreement between Precipio and the Harvard-affiliated institute provides for the exclusive, worldwide license rights for Ice-Cold PCR and related technologies, according to a statement. Ice-Cold PCR is an enrichment technology that enables the laboratory to focus analysis on the tumor DNA by enriching, and thereby "multiplying" the presence of tumor DNA, while maintaining the level of normal DNA, the company explained.

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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