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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Climb Despite Rise in Weekly Jobless Claims; ECB Stimulus Measures Spur Gains

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.51%, hit an all-time high

iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): +1.38%

PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +0.66%, with a 13-year high

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +1%

Direxion Daily Small Cap Bear 3X Shares ( TZA ): -4.15%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were higher and some reached record or multi-year highs. Likewise, actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was up 0.66%, with a new 13-year high.

U.S. stocks rose to intraday record highs, continuing to gain strength following the European Central Bank's announcement of stimulus measures, including a reduction in interest rates and installing a negative rate on bank deposits. The ECB also dropped the rate on bank deposits held overnight with the central bank to minus 0.1%. In U.S. economic data, jobless claims rose 8,000 to 312,000 - a higher gain than economists had expected. Despite the increase, initial claims were still near a post-recession low, which could indicate a low number of layoffs. The average of new claims over the past month fell to 310,250 - the lowest level since June 2007. Finally, household net worth for Q1 climbed $1.5 trillion, driven by rising house prices and a growing stock market, according to the Federal Reserve.

Power Play: Consumer

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) all climbed to record highs.

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

Among stocks, Vince Holding (VNCE) jumped 13% after it reported Q1 net income of $1.4 million or $0.04 per share, compared with the prior-year period's net loss of $15.1 million or $0.58 loss per share. Excluding the impact of public company transition costs and results of the non-Vince businesses that were separated on Nov. 27, 2013, adjusted net income was $0.1 million or $0.00 per share. This compared to the Capital IQ consensus estimate of $0.01 EPS. Revenue was $53.5 million, up 32.4% from $40.4 million in the same quarter last year. Analysts were expecting $48.77 million. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 11.1% over Q1 2013.

The company maintains its revenue guidance for fiscal 2014, still expecting revenue of $325 million - $340 million. It raises its earnings guidance to $0.88 - $0.92 EPS from the prior guidance range of $0.85 - $0.90 EPS. The Street view is for EPS of $0.88 on revenues of $335.28 million. Comparable store sales growth is still expected to be in the high single-digit to low double-digit range.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.62%, near multi-year highs. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 1.84%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 1.87%, hitting a record low.

Among sector news, RCS Capital Corporation (RCAP) was down 10% after it priced its offering of $384.8 million of its class A common stock. RCAP Holdings, the controlling stockholder of RCAP, will offer $101.3 million of class A common stock. The offering consists of 19 million shares of RCAP class A common stock to be offered by RCAP and 5 million shares of RCAP class A common stock by RCAP Holdings, at $20.25 per share. The over-allotment option granted by RCAP consists of up to an additional 3.6 million shares.

Technology

Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) and iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW) were higher, both hitting 13-year highs; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM) and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV) were also firmer, near multi-year highs. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) slipped 0.25% while and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.42%; both hit record highs.

In corporate news, Bazaarvoice (BV) was up 14%, reversing losses it logged in Wednesday's after hours session, when it reported non-GAAP Q4 net loss of $0.11 per share, one penny deeper than the consensus of analysts polled by Capital IQ. This was narrower vs. a prior-year Q4 loss of $0.15 per share. Revenue increased 11% to $43.1 million, also missing analyst estimates of $45.4 million.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) were firmer, reaching record highs.

Among stocks, Abraxas Petroleum (AXAS) was up 12% after the company late Wednesday provided an operational update on its Eagle Ford and Williston Basin properties, as well as a guidance update for 2014. AXAS revised its Barrels Of Oil Equivalent Per Day (boepd) production estimates to between 5,500-5,700 from prior estimates of 5,200-5,300.

This Thursday morning, analysts at SunTrust Robinson-Humphrey upgraded AXAS shares to a buy rating from neutral. The firm also raised its price target on shares of the oil and gas company to $6 from $5.

Commodities

Crude was down 0.34%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.13%. Natural gas was up 0.34% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.62%.

Gold was up 0.83% and silver was up 1.48%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.79% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 1.44%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV), iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) were higher. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 0.98%.

In corporate news, Bio-Reference Laboratories (BRLI) was up 16% after it reported net income of $10.3 million, or $0.37 per share, down from $11.3 million, or $0.41 a year ago. The company estimates that the adverse effects of weather during Q2FY14 cut EPS by $0.05. The figure still topped expectations for $0.31, according to analysts polled by Capital IQ. The clinical laboratory testing company recorded Q2FY14 revenues of $201.3 million, a record for the company and representing an increase of 14% over the $176.4 million reported last year. Analysts were expecting $196 million.

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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