Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Wednesday's pre-market session:
SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): +0.2%
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -0.3%
VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Ipath ( VXX ): -1.6%
iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund ( EWJ ): -0.1%
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX ): +0.5%
Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were higher. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.3%.
U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower open, tracking European markets, as news that police conducted a raid in Paris linked to last Friday's terror attacks cast a pall over market sentiment.
Investors also continue to fret over the possible interest-rate increase at the Federal Reserve's December meeting. The Fed is expected to release minutes from its October meeting at 2 pm ET.
In economic data, the Commerce Department reported that construction on new U.S. homes fell by 11% in October to an annual rate of 1.06 million - the lowest level since early spring. Forecasts had called for starts to decline to a seasonally adjusted 1.15 million. Housing starts in September were also revised down to a 1.19 million annual rate from 1.21 million.
October building permits, meanwhile, rose 4.1% to 1.150 million versus the 4.8% drop to 1.105 million in September, which in turn was revised from 1.103 million.
Power Play: Health Care
Health Care SPDR (XLV) was down 0.4% in pre-market trading while 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 up 0.5%.
Anavex Life Sciences Corp. (AVXL) was up 23.5% after it said that it is moving forward with its development program for ANAVEX 2-73 based on guidance received from the Food and Drug Administration confirming the company's plan to advance the drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in a phase 2/3 trial. "The utilization of Adaptive Design and Population Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) modeling is a major strength of the Phase 2a study. By implementing a different, innovative trial design for ANAVEX 2-73 in Alzheimer's treatment, it is believed that this is more efficient than a conventional Phase 2 study since it is designed to reduce the risk of a Phase 3 trial failure, as well as receiving the best quality information we can about ANAVEX 2-73," said CEO Christopher U. Missling. "The advantage of having Population PK/PD data is of value for the development of ANAVEX 2-73 in Alzheimer's disease and also for other potential CNS indications."
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.2%. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.1% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was flat.
Opus Bank (OPB) was up 0.1% as the commercial bank priced the secondary public offering of nearly 5.5 million shares by investment funds at $36.50 each, a 1.1% discount to Tuesday's closing price. The stock is being offered by funds affiliated with Fortress Investment Group, Elliott Associates, Starwood Capital Group Global, Abrams Capital Management, PMG Ventures Holdings, and Mount Kellett Master Fund II. Opus will not receive proceeds from the offering. The underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase an additional 808,084 shares in the offering from the selling stockholders.
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.
Qualcomm (QCOM) was down 1.1% after the maker of wireless technologies said it has received the Korea Fair Trade Commission's Case Examiner Report that alleges it violates Korean competition law and that is proposing remedies including modifications to business practices as well as monetary penalties. In response, Qualcomm said the allegations and conclusions contained in the Examiner Report are not supported by the facts and are a "serious misapplication of law." The company said it plans to defend its practices at the Commission hearings and is "hopeful" that the Commission will reject the conclusions of the Examiner's Report, noting the process is expected to take some time, without providing more detail.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was flat while Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.2% in the pre-market session.
Daqo New Energy (DQ) was up 6.1% after it reported Q3 adjusted net income was $0.60 per share, down from $1.09 per share in the prior year period. Analyst estimates were not available for comparison. Revenues were $46.6 million, down slightly from $47.3 million reported for the same period last year
Crude was up 0.9%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.7%. Natural gas futures were down 0.4%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 1.5%. Gold was up 0.6% and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.1%.
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 up 0.4% while retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were flat.
ConAgra Foods (CAG) said it will separate into two independent public companies: one that will hold a portfolio of various consumer brands and one that will hold its frozen potato products. The consumer brands business will be renamed Conagra Brands while the frozen potato business will operate under the Lamb Weston name. ConAgra Foods shareholders will own shares of both independent companies at the completion of the separation, expected in the fall of 2016. It will be structured as a spin-off of the Lamb Weston business, tax-free to the company and its shareholders.
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