Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Continue to Trade Higher as Strong Jobs Data, Easing Trade War Fears Buoy Sentiment

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +1.2%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +1.8%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ETN ( VXX ): -5.1%

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): +1.9%

Credit Suisse AG - VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short Term ( TVIX ): -8.8%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including IWM and IVV were firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 1.4%.

U.S. stocks extended their gains into session's half, after the February labor market report indicated a lack of wage pressures despite a significant gain in nonfarm payrolls, the combination of which should take off some of the pressure on the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates again this month.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 313,000 last month, the strongest monthly gain since Oct. 2015 and well above estimates for a 205,000 gain. Additionally, both December and January were given healthy upward revisions. Stocks took off, however, on the benign 0.1% gain in average hourly earnings, missing expectations for a 0.2% gain. Other components of the report were also bullish: the jobless rate was unchanged at 4.1%, largely a result of the increased participation rate to 63.0% from 62.7%. Private payrolls increased by a greater-than-expected 287,000 and manufacturing jobs jumped 31,000, double what Wall Street expected.

The upbeat mood was enhanced by easing geopolitical pressures and President Donald Trump's concessions to its allies regarding steel and aluminium tariffs, all of which contributed to a 300-plus point gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and record high for the Nasdaq. All sectors of the S&P 500 with the exception of the defensive sectors are posting outsized gains led by financial and energy shares.

Power Play: Energy

Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was up 1.6% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 1.6%.

Spark Energy (SPKE) rose more than 22% after the company said it had retained Morgan Stanley as a financial adviser to explore strategic alternatives. The company also announced two recent acquisitions. On March 1, Spark acquired a retail electric provider with approximately 29,000 RCEs serving electricity and natural gas customers in the Northeast and Midwest. The company said the deal would immediately add to earnings and required minimal integration. On March 7, Spark said it entered into an agreement with National Gas & Electric, an affiliate of Retailco, for the acquisition of approximately 50,000 RCEs for approximately $12.5 million in cash. The transaction is scheduled to close in April. Spark said on March 7, it also agreed to reintegrate the employees and operations of Retailco Services. This reintegration is scheduled to occur on April 1 and is expected to be accretive to 2018 earnings. The company reported Q4 adjusted EBITDA of $28.9 million, up from $24.8 million in the same period last year.

Winners and Losers


The Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 1.9%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 4.5% and its bearish counterpart Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X shares (FAZ) was down 4.5%.

Goldman Sachs (GS) chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is preparing to step down as soon as the end of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The 63-year-old Blankfein has led the investment bank for 12 years. GS shares were up 1.3%.


Tech funds 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 firmer, with most funds reaching or nearing multi-year highs. Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 1.1% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 1.8%.

Qualcomm (QCOM) rose almost 2% after the chip maker said it has extended its tender offer for outstanding shares of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) to March 16 as the company continues its attempts at an acquisition to help fend off a hostile takeover by Broadcom (AVGO). The company also said it has replaced Paul Jacobs as chairman of the board with board member Jeffrey Henderson as non-executive chairman. Jacobs will remain on the board but not in an executive management capacity.


Crude was up 2.8%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 2.3%. Natural gas was up 0.9% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 0.6%.

Gold was up 0.2%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.1%. Silver was up 0.9%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.6%.

Health Care

Health care funds Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare (IYH), were firmer. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 1.4%.

Can-Fite Biopharma Ltd (CANF) slid 18% after the company said it agreed to sell shares to institutional investors for gross proceeds of approximately $5 million in a registered direct offering. The company will issue 3,333,336 registered American Depository Shares (ADSs) at a purchase price of $1.50 per ADS. Additionally, for each ADS purchased by investors, the investors will receive an unregistered warrant to purchase 75% of an ADS. The warrants have an exercise price of $2.00 per ADS, shall be exercisable six months following the issuance date and will expire five and one-half years from the issuance date. The closing of the offering is expected to take place on or about March 13.


Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods (IYK) were firmer.

Likewise, 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 in the green.

Auto Web (AUTO) fell almost 42% after the company reported late Thursday Q4 sales slipped to $33.3 million from $40.4 million in the year-ago period and missed the CapIQ mean for $35.4 million. Non-GAAP EPS fell to $0.01 from $0.35 last year and missed forecasts for $0.15. Jeff Coats, president & CEO, said he will be stepping down when a replacement is found. Also, Kimberly Boren will be stepping down as CFO, effective April 12, and Wesley Ozima will become interim CFO until a replacement is found.

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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