ETF Preview: ETFs, Futures Point Higher as Earnings, Economic Data Remain in Focus

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

iShares MSCI EAFE ETF ( EFA ): +0.5%

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.1%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX ): +1.6%

ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF ( UVXY ): +3%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ):-0.9%

Broad Market Indicators

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

US stock futures were pointing to a higher open, as earnings and economic data helped brighten market sentiment. eBay (eBay), Facebook (FB) and Qorvo (QRVO) were among gainers, offsetting other names such as Paypal (PYPL) and Microsoft (MSFT), which were logging losses after reporting their quarterly results.

In economic data news, the preliminary Q4 nonfarm productivity rate posted a 0.1% decline, below the 1.1% increase expected. Unit labor costs rose 2.0% versus the 0.9% consensus and output slowed to a 3.2% pace versus 4.0% (revised from 4.1%) previously.

Weekly jobless claims slid 1,000 to 230,000, while continuing claims increased 13,000 to 1.953 million.

And, Challenger reported announced layoffs climbed 12,200 in January to 44,700, after falling 2,600 in December to 32,400. The data are not seasonally adjusted and largely reflect an unwind of holiday hiring.

Power Play: 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 flat.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) were inactive.

Microsoft (MSFT) fell more than 1% after it reported Q2 revenue of $28.9 billion, up 12% over year ago levels and better than the analyst consensus of $28.41 billion on Capital IQ. Non-GAAP earnings were $0.96 per share, vs. expectations of $0.87 per share. GAAP loss for the quarter was $0.82 per share, including a $13.8 billion charge related to tax cuts, down from a year ago profit of $0.80 per share.

Winners and Losers


The Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.03%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) and its bearish counterpart FAZ were quiet.

The Blackstone Group L.P (BX) rose 1.6% after it reported Q4 economic net income of $0.71 per unit, up from $0.68 per unit in the prior year period and came in higher than the $0.67 per share Street estimate provided by Capital IQ. Revenue was $1.88 billion, up from $1.57 billion reported for the same period last year and higher than the $1.73 billion Street estimate.


Select Sector SPDR-Industrial (XLI) was up 0.3% while other industrial funds Vanguard Industrials (VIS), iShares Trust Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector Index Fund (IYJ) were inactive.

Lightbridge (LTBR) rose nearly 19% after the company said it has been awarded key patents in both Europe and China related to its innovative metallic fuel design that each extend through 2034. These patents follow notices of allowances that were issued by the European Patent Office and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China, as reported in October 2017.


Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was inactive and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.5%.

Zion Oil & Gas (ZN) rose more than 11% after the company said in a regulatory filing that it has launched new $5 per share unit program of limited duration during the month of February. The company also reported that its Megiddo-Jezreel #1 (MJ #1) well is at a current depth of about 4,850 meters ( about 15,913 feet) and should reach its final total depth of up to 5,100 meters ( 16,733 feet) in the next few drilling days.


Crude was down 0.5%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.5%. Natural gas was down 2.8% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 1.7%.

Gold was down 0.1%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.2%. Silver was down 0.4%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.1%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV) and other health care funds Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were quiet. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 0.5% in pre-market trade.

OncoSec Medical (ONCS) fell more than 14% after it said it plans to sell shares in an underwritten public offering and intends to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the shares of its common stock offered in the public offering.


Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), 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 quiet in pre-market trade.

Ralph Lauren (RL) was down more than 6% after it reported fiscal Q3 adjusted net income of $2.03 per diluted share, up from $1.86 per share in the prior-year period. The result was higher than the $1.87 per share Street estimate provided by Capital IQ. Revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 30 was $1.64 billion, down from $1.71 billion reported for the same period last year. That result was slightly above the Street estimate of $1.63 billion. For fiscal Q4, the company expects revenue decline of 8% to 10%, excluding the impact of foreign currency. The Street consensus calls for revenue decline of 4.2%. For fiscal 2018, the company expects revenue decline of 8% to 9%, excluding the impact of foreign currency. Capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $200 million.

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

Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

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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