Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Thursday's pre-market session:
SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): -0.1%
VelocityShares 3X Long Crude ETN ( UWTI ): -5.3%
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX ): -0.2%
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.6%
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX ): +0.2%
Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were edging lower ahead of Thursday's open and the Easter holiday weekend. Meanwhile, actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.1%.
U.S. stock futures were also in negative territory, holding on to losses following a report that weekly jobless claims fell by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 versus expectations for claims to rise to 285,000 from 282,000 in the prior week. This was the the second-lowest number of claims since the recession ended. Continuing claims decreased by 88,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.33 million.
Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit fell 17% in February to $35.4 billion--the lowest level since 2009--from a revised $42.7 billion in January, versus forecasts for a deficit of $41.7 billion.
Still ahead, factory orders for February will be released at 10 a.m. ET. Investors are also looking ahead to the nonfarm payrolls report due Friday, which is seen as significant in the Federal Reserve's upcoming decision to determine the timing of its interest-rate increase.
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 up 0.3%.
Repros Therapeutics (RPRX) jumped 23% pre-market after the biopharmaceutical firm said its new-drug application for its enclomiphene citrate product was accepted by the Food and Drug Administration. Formerly known as Androxal, the company's lead product candidate is being developed for the treatment of secondary hypogonadism in overweight men wishing to restore normal testicular function.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was flat. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 1.5% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, were also inactive.
BB&T's (BBT) CRC Insurance Services insurance subsidiary said it has agreed to acquire the strategic assets of Napco LLC, and independent wholesale broker of commercial property catastrophe insurance coverage, for an undisclosed amount. "Napco is an outstanding company with a thorough understanding of the unique challenges associated with property catastrophic insurance," head of BB&T's wholesale division. BBT shares were inactive pre-market.
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 .
ChinaNet Online Holdings (CNET) said it has entered a strategic alliance with Gridsum Technology to develop an all-round online-to-offline internet and mobile search engine marketing and search engine optimization solution for small and medium-sized enterprises in the People's Republic of China.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) while Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.8%.
Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) said outgoing CFO Terrance Paradie will be succeeded by its current executive vice prsident of business development, P. Kelly Tompkins.
Crude was down 2.3%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 1.5%. Natural gas futures were up 0.6%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.8%.
Gold was down 0.3% while silver was down 1.3%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.1% while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.6%.
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.
Ford (F) shares slipped 0.1% pre-bell after the auto maker reported March retail sales were up 1%, and overall sales totaled 235,929 vehicles, down 3% from a year prior.
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