Active broad-market exchange-traded funds at mid-day:
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.94%, with a new 52-week high of $154.59
Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF ): +1.1%, with a new 52-week high of $18.05.
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): +1.28%
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ( VXX ): -3.04%
iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): +10.2%, near its new 52-week high
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, are firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) is up 0.55%.
U.S. stocks continued to rally, basking in the Dow Jones Industrial Average's new all time high. The Dow pushed past the previous record of 14,164.53 it hit in October 2007. Overseas markets were also higher, lending support, as Chinese stocks recovered from sharp losses in Monday's previous session and Europe stocks firmed up on hopes of a possible rate cut by the European Central Bank, which will hold a meeting this Thursday.
Back home, investors cheered the report that the ISM services-company index rose 56% in February, compared with January's reading of 55.2% and versus the Briefing.com consensus of 55.4%.
Winners and Losers
Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) jumped to a new 52-week high of $18.05, edging up 1.1%%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 2.87%, also reaching a new 52-week high of $158.18. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 2.96%, with a new 52-week low of $11.04.
Among financial stocks, Newcastle Investment (NCT) was up around 0.90% and touched a new 52-week high of $11.39 after it said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire up to 50% of a $4.2 billion unpaid principal balance portfolio of consumer loans from HSBC Finance Corporation (HBC). NCT will co-invest alongside Springleaf Finance, Inc., a national consumer finance company, who will also be responsible for servicing the loans. HBC shares inched higher, up 0.17%.
Tech ETFs were firmer in mid-day action, tracking the broader market: Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), up 1.46%; iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), up 1.75%; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM), up 1.43%, with a new 52-week high of $72.45; and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV), up 1.09%, also with a new 52-week high of $69.49.
Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 1.80% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 2.01% .
SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was up 1.6%, nearing its 52-week high.
In sector news, Himax Technologies (HIMX) has soared 36.6% to a new 52-week high of $4.79 amid expectations it will become the primary provider for the micro-displays that will be used in the Google Glass project, Seeking Alpha reported.
Google has moved the timeline for Google Glass, which will allow users to view computer-generated data on their glasses, from 2014 to later this year, thereby also pushing up the timeline for potential suppliers, it said.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 0.84%; Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.73%.
In sector news, Renewable Energy Reports (REGI) continued to tumble lower at mid-day, down more than 16.5% after the biodiesel company reported late Monday Q4 revenues of $232 million, a decline of 13% compared to revenues of $267 million for the same period in 2011, and more than the $161 million analysts had expected. Q4 adjusted EBITDA was $13.6 million, a decrease of 54% compared to $29.5 million for the same period in 2011.
Crude was up 0.14%; natural gas was up 0.78%. United States Oil Fund (USO) continued to edge higher, up 0.09%; likewise, United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.41%.
Gold was up around 0.11% and silver was up 0.52%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) inched higher, up 0.03%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was also up 0.33%.
Healthcare ETFs are jumping higher, reaching new 52-week highs: Health Care SPDR (XLV), up 0.79%, with a new 52-week high of $44.48; Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), up 0.83%, with a new 52-week high of $79.91; and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), up 0.80%, with a new 52-week high of $93.01. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) also reached a new 52-week high of $153.70, up 0.80%.
In corporate news, Acura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACUR) surged higher, up about 61%, after it announced that its pseudoephedrine drug Nexafed, with abuse-deterrent technology, will now be stocked by chain drug store KERR DRUG. Nexafed should begin to appear on KERR DRUG shelves within 2 weeks. Nexafed launched commercially in December 2012 and is now available through national and regional drug wholesalers.
Power Play -
Consumer ETFs were firmer: Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), up 0.31%; iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), up 0.62%, with a new 52-week high of $83.03; and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC), up 0.38%, with a new 52-week high of $97.36.
Retail ETFs were also higher, nearing their 52-week highs: SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), up 1.09% and PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR), up 0.49%. Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) was down 1.7% but touched a new 52-week high of $47.70.
In sector news, JC Penney (JCP) was down more than 9%, adding to pre-market losses of some 3%, after CNBC reports a 10 million share block in the troubled retailer was being shopped by Deutsche Bank's trading desk. The asking price of the block owned by Vornado Realty Trust was for a range between $16.40 and $16.60, one source confirmed, valuing the stake between $164 million and $166 million. the report added.
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