Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Thursday's regular session:
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.8%
VelocityShares 3X Long Crude ETN ( UWTI ): -1.9%
VelocityShares 3X Long Natural Gas ETN ( UGAZ ): +5.8%
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX ): +0.7%
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +0.8%
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were firmer. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 1.2%.
U.S. stocks were also higher at session's half following the Labor Department's report that first-time jobless claims fell to 264,000 last week, down 1,000 from the previous week and marking the first time since 1975 initial unemployment applications were under 270,000 claims three weeks in a row.
In other economic data news, factory orders rose to their highest level in eight months during March, while durable good orders increased 4.1% year over year. The gain for the latter, however, was largely due to a big jump in demand for commercial aircraft. Excluding the transportation segment, orders declined for a sixth straight month. February orders were revised downward to a 3.5% decline from the 1.4% drop initially reported.
Power Play: Health Care
Health Care SPDR (XLV), iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) were firmer, in line with the broader market. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 1.3%.
Puma Biotechnology (PBYI) was down 18.2% after the American Society of Clinical Oncology released an abstract showing disappointing results in its breast cancer drug neratinib's performance versus placebo. The Phase 3 trial included a total of 2,821 patients previously treated for a type of breast cancer fueled by HER2 protein. The analysis of results study concluded that after two years, 93.9% of neratinib patients were alive without their disease progressing, compared with 91.6% of patients treated with a placebo.
Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.5%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 1.8%, while Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares (FAZ) was down 1.8%.
WashingtonFirst Bankshares (WFBI) was up 4.2% after saying it has agreed to acquire 1st Portfolio Holding Corporation in a stock deal that is expected to close in Q3. The deal is expected to "significantly expand the company's mortgage lending business as well as add an additional line of business - wealth management - to WashingtonFirst's financial services. The deal is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings per share and will initially be 2% to 3% dilutive to the company's tangible book value per share. However, with the accretion to EPS, the book value will recover within approximately two years, the company said. 1st Portfolio accredited shareholders will receive $7.7 million in WFBI shares valued at $16.00 per share. It said 10% of the merger consideration will be held in escrow for one year to secure 1st Portfolio's indemnification obligations under the merger agreement. In addition WashingtonFirst will issue of its common stock, valued at $16.00 per share, in exchange for up to $7.0 million in new capital, representing 1st Portfolio's tangible equity capital in excess of $2.5 million. As of March 31, the amount of such excess capital was approximately $5.1 million.
Meanwhile, non-accredited shareholders of 1st Portfolio, who hold approximately 2% of the company's common stock, will receive cash consideration in lieu of shares of WFBI common stock.
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 higher. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.
Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 0.8%, and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.7%.
Integrated Silicon Solution (ISSI) jumped 7.3% to a fresh 14-year high after Cypress Semiconductor (CY) disclosed late Wednesday an offer to buy the Milpitas, California-based fabless semiconductor firm for $19.75 per share in cash. Cypress said it sent a letter to Integrated's board detailing the proposal. Cypress said the offer is superior to a $19.25 per share sale price that Integrated Silicon Solution agreed to in a prior merger pact with a Chinese consortium led by Summitview Capital. CY was up 3.8%.
Industrial ETFs iShares Trust Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector Index Fund (IYJ), Vanguard Industrials (VIS) and Select Sector SPDR-Industrial (XLI) were weaker.
The Middleby Corporation (MIDD) was up 7.4% after it reported late Wednesday its Q1 2015 net income higher than the Street consensus, while revenues fell short. Net income for the quarter was $38.2 million, or $0.67 per share; up from $33.4 million, or $0.59 per share in Q1 2014. Excluding certain items, net income for the quarter would have been $0.80 per share, which is higher than the $0.71 per share Street estimate provided by Capital IQ. Net sales were $406.6 million, up from $372.5 million reported for the same period last year but came in lower than the $413.8 million Street estimate provided by Capital IQ.
Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 0.2% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.2%.
Jones Energy (JONE) was down 12.3% after the oil-and-gas company said the 5 million shares of its class A common stock being offered by affiliates of Metalmark Capital are being sold at a price of $10 per share, a 12% discount to the stock's Wednesday closing price. The selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 750,000 shares. The selling stockholders will receive all of the net proceeds from the offering, which is expected to close May 19. The 5 million shares being offered by Metalmark represented approximately 22% of Metalmark's ownership in the company as of Wednesday.
Crude was up 1.7%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.8%. Natural gas was up 2.2% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 2.4%.
Gold was up 0.5%, and silver was up 1.2%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.7% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.7%.
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK), and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) were in the green.
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) , SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) , PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were higher.
Ctrip.com International (CTRP) rose 10.9% to a fresh lifetime high Thursday morning after the travel service provider in China reported it swung to a profit in Q1 as revenues improved year-over-year. The company reported adjusted EPS of RMB0.23 (US$0.04), compared to a loss of RMB0.70 ($0.11) in the same period a year ago, surpassing analyst expectations for a loss of $0.09. On a GAAP basis diluted earnings per ADS were RMB0.90 ($0.15) for Q1, up from RMB0.77 ($0.12) in the same period a year ago. Total revenues of RMB2.4 billion ($394 million) were up from RMB1.7 billion in Q1 2014 and were ahead of analyst projections of $363 million. For Q2 2015, the company expects net revenue to grow at a rate of approximately 45-50% over Q2 2014 net revenues of RMB1.7 billion ($278 million).
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