Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Thursday's pre-market session:
SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): -0.2%
VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Ipath ( VXX ): +0.8%
3X Long Crude ETN Velocityshares ( UWTI ): -0.7%
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -0.5%
United States Oil Fund ( USO ): -0.1%
Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, edged lower. Meanwhile, actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.1%.
U.S. stock futures logged modest gains following the report that weekly jobless claims declined 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 versus forecasts for claims to total 270,000. Continuing claims were 2.2 million, down 47,000 from the prior week.
Trading volume is expected to be light in today's shortened session, a day before Christmas, when markets are closed.
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 also unchanged.
Eagle Pharmaceuticals (EGRX) rose 6.8% after it said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Docetaxel injection, non-alcohol formula for the treatment of breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, prostate cancer, gastric adenocarcinoma, and head and neck cancer. "The need for an alcohol-free docetaxel gained visibility in June 2014 when the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication warning patients that docetaxel may cause symptoms of alcohol intoxication after treatment. Manufacturers of docetaxel formulations for domestic use were subsequently required to revise their product labels to reflect alcohol content and include a drug safety warning. Some U.S. hospitals and clinics require patients to wait two or more hours after treatment with docetaxel before they can be released. This formulation of docetaxel was specifically developed to address these concerns," the company said.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.1%. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 0.7% while its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was flat.
BB&T (BBT) late Wednesday said it has received approval from the Federal Reserve to go ahead with its proposed acquisition of National Penn Bancshares (NPBC). The transaction is expected to close in the next few months. As previously announced, the deal is valued at approximately $1.8 billion and is expected to "significantly expand BB&T's footprint in the Mid-Atlantic region and improve its deposit market share to #4 in Pennsylvania."
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 .
SunEdison (SUNE) was up 3.2% after the company said in a SEC filing it has been engaged in ongoing financing discussions with certain potential financing sources, including existing investors and lenders of the company related to a new up to $650 million second lien credit facility, a portion of the proceeds of which would be used to repay the company's existing second lien credit facility. It says it ntends to continue to explore the potential second lien credit facility that may include a significant amount of the company's outstanding equity.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was flat while Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.4% in the pre-market session.
Oil and gas producer InterOil (IOC) said that its joint venture partner Total E&P PNG (TOT) is currently conducting a drilling program at the Antelope-6 appraisal well in Papua New Guinea to provide structural control and reservoir definition on the field's eastern flank. InterOil holds a 36.5375% interest in the well, while Total owns 40.1275%. Oil Search has 22.8350%, and the remaining 0.5000% is held by minority parties.
Crude was up 0.7%. United States Oil Fund ( USO ) was up 0.6%. Natural gas futures were up 2.8%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 2.2%. Gold was up 0.3% and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.3%. Silver was up 0.1% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.2%.
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) and retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were flat.
Dreamworks Animation SKG (DWA) said late Wednesday in a SEC filing it extended its licensing pact with Steven Spielberg until the earlier of the initial release date of the thirtieth motion picture produced (or co-produced), acquired, distributed or released by or for Holding Company, or January 31, 2016.
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