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ETF Preview: ETFs, Stocks Edge Lower Following FOMC Meeting Minutes; Weekly Jobless Claims, February Wholesale Inventories Still Ahead

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

SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust ( SPY ): -0.04%

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

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +0.6%

iShares China Large-Cap ETF ( FXI ): +1.8%

ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF ( UVXY ): +0.5%

Broad-Market Indicators

Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were slipping lower ahead of Thursday's open. Meanwhile, actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.1%.

U.S. stock futures were also weaker as investors continued to digest the minutes of the Federal Reserve's March meeting, released Wednesday afternoon, which revealed the members of the Federal Open Market Committee had mixed opinions on the timing of an interest rate increase.

Still ahead, weekly jobless claims will be released at 8:30 am ET, with expectations for an increase to 285,000 applications for unemployment benefits. February wholesale inventories, meanwhile, will be reported at 10 am ET.

Earnings are slowly coming into the spotlight as Alcoa's (AA) earnings report, released late Wednesday, signal the start of the earnings season. Retailers such as Cato (CATO), Stein Mart (SMRT), and Buckle (BKE) are also in focus as they report same store sales for March.

Power Play: 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.

Alcoa (AA) was down 2.85% after it reported late Wednesday Q1 net income of $195 million, or $0.14 per share, vs. a year ago loss of $178 million, or $0.16 per share. Excluding special items, net income was $363 million, or $0.28 per share, up from $98 million, or $0.09 per share last year and two cents better tan the analyst consensus on Capital IQ. Revenue was $5.8 billion, up 7% over year ago levels but below the Street consensus of $5.93 billion. Looking forward, the company upwardly revised its final 2014 global aluminum demand growth from 7 percent to 9 percent, to 54 million metric tons. It continues to project approximately 3.5 million metric tons of new demand growth in 2015, or 6.5 percent, for a record 57.5 million metric tons.

Alcoa is holding steady its 2015 growth projections for the aerospace, automotive, building and construction, industrial gas turbine and packaging end markets.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was flat. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.2% while its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 0.2%

Gramercy Property Trust (GPT) was down 2.8% after it said late Wednesday that it has commenced an underwritten public offering of 7,000,000 shares of its common stock.

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 .

Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) was down 9.7% after social videogame maker said CEO Don Mattrick will leave the company effective April 8 and will be succeeded by Zynga founder and chairman Mark Pincus who will return to the CEO role. Zynga CFO David Lee said Q1 was "a strong quarter," and that the company is confident in the outlook provided during the Q4 earnings call on Feb. 12. "Our teams are heads down and focused on our mobile-first product slate and we will be sharing details related to our product progress and financial performance during our Q1 earnings call on May 7, 2015," Lee added.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was flat while Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.1%.

Memorial Production Partners (MEMP) was down 5.8% after it unveiled a public offering of nearly 4.7 million common units representing limited partner interests owned by MRD Holdco. MRD will receive all of the net proceeds from the offering and has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 699,249 common units.

Commodities

Crude was up 2.1%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 1.2%. Natural gas futures were up 0.5%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was flat.

Gold was down 0.4% while silver was down 0.8%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.3% while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 1.1%.

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.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) reported Q4 EPS of $1.80 per share, in line with the analyst consensus on Capital IQ. Revenue was $3.37 billion, matching the Street view as well. Q4 comp store sales increased about 3.7%, or 3.9% on a constant currency basis, vs. Street estimates of a 4.0% increase. Looking forward, company is modeling a 2.0% to 3.0% increase for comparable sales for both the fiscal 2015 first quarter and full year. The Street view for Q1 is a 2.9% increase in comp store sales and 2.4% increase for the full year. It sees net earnings per diluted share between $.90 to $.95 for the first quarter of fiscal 2015, and to be between relatively flat and a mid-single digit percentage increase for the fiscal full year. Analysts are expecting earnings of $1.01 per share for Q1. The company's fiscal 2015 model includes the impact of approximately $.24 per diluted share related to four non-comparable items between its 2014 results and its 2015 model.

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 0.1%.

Novogen (NVGN) rose 43.8% after disclosing that studies conducted at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute revealed its experimental drug Anisina killed melanoma cells regardless of their mutational status. NVGN said Anisina will be used clinically in early 2016 for the treatment of solid cancers, with late-stage melanoma and prostate cancer in adults and neuroblastoma in children being three key target indications. The latest study results give strength to the aim of conducting a clinical study in patients with late-stage melanoma using a combined treatment of Anisina and vincristine, the company said.

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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