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ETF Preview: ETFs, Futures Lower on Mixed Economic Data; Investor Remain Cautious Ahead of Fed Speakers

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

VelocityShares 3X Long Crude ETN ( UWTI ): -2.7%

SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): -0.5%

United States Oil Fund ( USO ): -0.9%

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): -0.04%

ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil ( UCO ): -1.8%

Broad-Market Indicators

Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, slipped lower ahead of Thursday's open. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.4%.

U.S. stock futures were also in negative territory as mixed economic data offset better-than-expected earnings reports, and as investors remain cautious ahead of a slew of speeches from Fed members.

Financial firms Goldman Sachs Group (GS) and Citigroup (C) posted earnings results that topped Street estimates. UnitedHealth Group (UNH) and Philip Morris International (PM), meanwhile, raised their guidance for the full year 2015.

In economic data, weekly jobless claims rose to 294,000 versus expectations for claims to remain flat at 281,000. Continuing claims fell by 40,000 to 2.27 million - the lowest level since December 2000. Meanwhile, housing starts rose to an annual rate of 926,000 in March from a revised 908,000 in February versus forecasts for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million. Still ahead, Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index will be released at 10 am ET.

Members of the Federal Reserve will also be giving speeches later. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, will speak in Florida at 1 pm ET. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will be speakng in New York at 1:10 pm ET and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will be speaking in London at 1:30 pm ET. Both are non-voting members of the Fed. Finally, Stanley Fischer, the Fed's Vice Chairman, is scheduled to talk about inflation at the International Monetary Fund at 3 p.m. ET.

Power Play: Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was down 0.04%. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 0.8% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 0.2%.

Goldman Sachs Group (GS) was up 0.6% after the big bank reported Q1 earnings well above analysts' expectations while revenue also topped the Street view, boosted by its highest investment-banking revenue since 2007 and a 49% surge in market-making revenue. GS was up 1.5% at $204.08 in recent pre-market trading , putting the stock on track to surpass its 52-week high of $202.14 if the pre-market gain is sustained in the regular session. Net earnings applicable to common shareholders rose to $2.75 billion, or $5.94 per diluted share, from $1.95 billion, or $4.02 per diluted share, in the prior-year period; the per-share comparison was skewed by a 4% decline in the number of diluted shares outstanding. Analysts polled by Capital IQ had expected a profit of $4.27 per share. Net revenue including net interest income climbed to $10.62 billion from $9.33 billion a year earlier, surpassing analysts' mean estimate of $9.39 billion. The company noted the revenue figure was its highest quarterly result in four years. The revenue growth came as investment-banking revenue rose 7% to its highest quarterly performance since 2007 and market-making revenue jumped 49%, outweighing flat investment-management revenue, a 2% decline in revenue from commissions and fees and a 17% drop in net interest income.

Winners and Losers

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.

Identive Group (INVE) was up 24% after the security technology company said it has entered into an agreement with Cisco Systems (CSCO) to provide solutions for the Internet of Everything (IoE). INVE will deliver a networked physical access control system that interacts with other IoE elements, such as Cisco virtual supervisor module cameras and Cisco voice-over-IP telephony products. Identiv will offer a completely network based access control system, including credentials, advanced networked uTrust TS door sensors, Power-over-Ethernet door controllers and access control software. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Industrial

Industrial ETFs iShares Trust Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector Index Fund (IYJ), Vanguard Industrials (VIS) and Select Sector SPDR-Industrial (XLI) were inactive.

W.W. Grainger (GWW) was up 0.7% after it said its has approved the purchase of $3 billion of its stock over the next three years and increased the repurchase authorization to 15 million shares, replacing the previous program approving the buyback of 10 million shares. The supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products said the additional buybacks are expected to be accretive to 2015 earnings in the range of $0.08 to $0.12 per share. Grainger had previously committed to buy back $400 million in shares in 2015. The buybacks will be funded "largely" with internally generated cash while purchases beyond "this amount in 2015 are expected to be financed with permanent debt." It said it plans to issue $1 billion in long term debt in June 2015 to help fund the program. Grainger also said it plans to continue to increase its annual dividend.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.5%.

Gulfport Energy (GPOR) was down 4.4% despite its late-Wednesday report of higher-than-expected Q1 production, as the oil-and-gas company also unveiled an agreement to buy Paloma Partners III for about $300 million, along with plans to offer 7.5 million shares of common stock and $300 million in senior notes. Gulfport said it produced oil and natural gas sales volumes of 424.4 MMcfe per day during Q1, exceeding the company's previously estimated guidance of approximately 378 MMcfe per day to 390 MMcfe per day. The Q1 2015 production figure was up 11% from Q4 and more than double the company's Q1 2014 production of 162.5 MMcfe per day. Paloma, the company being acquired by Gulfport Energy, holds approximately 24,000 net nonproducing acres in the core of the dry gas window of the Utica Shale in Ohio, the company noted. Pro forma for the full 24,000 acres contemplated by this transaction, Gulfport's holdings of Utica Shale leasehold are expected to total approximately 212,000 gross (208,000 net) acres under lease in the core of the play. The transaction is expected to close during Q3 2015.

Meanwhile, the company said it is commencing a public offering of 7.5 million shares of common stock, while the underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1.1 million shares from Gulfport. In addition, it plans to offer $300 million in senior notes due 2023.

Commodities

Crude was down 1.4%. United States Oil Fund ( USO ) was down 1.1%. Natural gas futures were down 0.6%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.3%.

Gold was up 0.5% while silver was up 1.1%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.2% while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.4%.

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), SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were also flat.

Philip Morris International (PM) was up 3.8% after the cigarette maker reported Q1 results above analysts' expectations and boosted its full-year outlook. Net earnings attributable to PMI declined to $1.80 billion, or $1.16 per share, from $1.88 billion, or $1.18 per share, in the prior-year period. On an adjusted basis that excludes one-time items, the latest quarter's EPS remained at $1.16, down from $1.19 a year earlier but well above the $1.01 expected on average by analysts polled by Capital IQ. The company noted excluding currency impacts, its EPS would have been $1.47 in the latest quarter. Net revenue excluding excise taxes slipped to $6.62 billion from $6.92 billion a year earlier, but topped analysts' mean estimate of $6.13 billion. Excluding unfavorable currency of $939 million and the impact of acquisitions, reported net revenue excluding excise taxes was up by 9.1%. Cigarette shipment volume totaled 198.8 billion units, up by 1.4% excluding acquisitions. The company raised its forecast for 2015 reported diluted earnings per share to a range of $4.32 to $4.42, versus its prior guidance for $4.27 to $4.37 and up from $4.76 per share in 2014. Analysts recently were projecting $4.25.

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 down 0.2%.

NovaBay Pharmaceuticals (NBY) was up 15.7% after saying pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services company AmerisourceBergen (ABC) will distribute its Avenova prescription lid and lash hygiene product for the management of debilitating eye conditions. Avenova is used to treat conditions like blepharitis, Meibomian gland dysfunction and associated dry eye. AmerisourceBergen will distribute Avenova to independent and retail chain pharmacies across the U.S. NovaBay previously reached a similar deal with McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and Vision Source. The new deal means Avenova will be available in the majority of the 67,000 pharmacies in the U.S. and in thousands of ophthalmologist and optometrist offices across the country

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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