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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Extend Relief Rally as Irma Downgraded to Tropical Storm, North Korea Nixes Missile Launch

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

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): +1.6%

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +1%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +1.3%

VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX ): -2%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX ): -5.8%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were higher. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 1.1%.

US stocks were higher at session's half, extending a so-called "relief rally" as after Hurricane Irma caused less damage across Florida than expected, and North Korea left its missiles on the ground for Founding Day.

The relief rally permeated global financial markets as well, namely European bourses which are more than 1% higher on gains in insurers. Swiss Re is higher by more than 4%, outpacing gains for its European rivals.

Power Play: Health Care

Health care funds Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH), were firmer. Meanwhile, Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 0.1%.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN) were down almost 23% after the company said that it has been notified by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals that it is terminating their worldwide collaboration on hepatitis C. The termination comes as Janssen decided to discontinue the development of investigational hepatitis C treatment regimen JNJ-4178, a combination of three direct acting antivirals: AL-335, odalasvir and simeprevir. Achillion said it was disappointed given that the data presented in phase 2a studay with JNJ-4178 demonstrated a 100% cure rate after only six weeks of therapy. Achillion said it anticipates initiating patient dosing in two phase 2 trials of ACH-4471 for patients with low C3 levels due to C3G or IC-MPGN in the second half of the year. JNJ shares were up 1.4%.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 1.9%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 5.1% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 5.1%.

Assurant (AIZ) rose nearly 4% after it reported that for Hurricane Harvey, it expects $134 million - $140 million pre-tax of reportable catastrophe losses, net of reinsurance, and reinstatement premiums for its Global Housing business unit. These will be reflected in its Q3 2017 financial results. For Hurricane Irma, the company said it expects gross losses to exceed its retention of $125 million pre-tax but will remain within the company's comprehensive reinsurance program. Assurant said it maintains a solid capital position with $625 million of capital at the holding company as of June 30, and maintains strong surplus levels in its insurance companies.

Technology

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 higher. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 1.6% while Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 1.8%,

Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG) edged up after the company appealed the record EUR2.4 billion ($2.88 billion) antitrust fine from the European Union, which said the online search giant manipulated its Internet search results. The Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe's second-highest, is expected to take several years before ruling on the appeal. A court spokeswoman said Google had not asked for an interim order to suspend the European Union decision, according to Reuters.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 1% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 1%.

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.- Petrobras (PBR) American depository shares were higher 2.5% after the company said it has started the disclosure phase of the sales process for its assets in Araucaria Nitrogenados SA and in the Nitrogen Fertilizer Unit III. The company said that a teaser containing information about the assets as well as the objective criteria for the selection of prospective purchasers is available on its web site.

Commodities

Crude was down 2%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 1.1%. Natural gas was down 2.9% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 1.4%.

Gold was up 0.1%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 1%. Silver was down 0.2%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.7%.

Consumer

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

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 also positive.

Nordstrom (JWN) was down 4.8% following a Wall Street Journal report that said it is opening a new, smaller, store concept that won't carry clothing The store, called Nordstrom Local, will open next month and offer services such as manicures and on-site tailoring.

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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