Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Fall as Volatility, Political Woes and Fading Consumer Confidence Weigh

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): -2%

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

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): -1.7%

Invesco QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): -2.6%

iPath S&P 500 VIX ST Futures ETN ( VXX ):+8.2%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including IWM and IVV were lower. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was down 2.6%.

US stocks continued to trade lower at session's half, with Wall Street's major indices were trading with outsized losses as all 11 sectors of the S&P 500 and all 30 Dow components fell into the red. Weighed down by fading consumer confidence and declining oil futures, the blue chip index was down as much as 500 points before finding support at the 50% Fibonacci retracement of Wednesday's range.

As a result of stock market volatility, political turmoil and a simmering trade war with China, consumer confidence declined in December with the Conference Board index falling to its lowest level since July. But while respondents' views of their current situation were unchanged, the expectations index fell to a two-year low of 99.1 from November's 112.3.

Wednesday's massive 1,000+ point rally in the Dow was also compromised by worries that the partial government shutdown will continue through the end of the year after President Donald Trump pledged to do "whatever it takes" to fund his border wall. And trade tensions resurfaced after the White House initiated efforts to ban US companies from conducting business with China's ZTE Corp and Huawei.

Thursday morning's other economic data was initial jobless claims, which showed 1,000 fewer individuals filed for first-time unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 22, in-line with expectations.

Power Play: Consumer

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was down 1% and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods (IYK) were lower.

Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was down 2.6% while retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were weaker.

China Automotive Systems (CAAS) rose nearly 10% after it said it has entered into a joint-venture agreement with South Korea-based Hyoseong Electric Co. Ltd. to design, manufacture and sell electric motors for automotive electric power steering systems. The company will own 51% of the joint venture, which will be called Hyoseong (Wuhan) Motion Mechatronics Systems, while Hyoseong Electric will own the remaining 49% interest. The JV plans to build a production facility in Wuhan, China for a total investment of RMB550 million ($80.1 million).

Winners and Losers


The Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was down 1.8%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 5.3% and its bearish counterpart Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X shares (FAZ) was up 5.5%.

Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) was down more than 3% after it said that Luxembourg's financial regulator, Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) has granted a non-objection to the expansion of Wells Fargo Asset Management Luxembourg's (WFAML) existing license. The expansion of the license in Luxembourg will permit the provision of discretionary portfolio management and investment advisory services to Wells Fargo Asset Management's (WFAML) European institutional investors, the lender said. As part of WFAML's efforts to support its European Union client base, it will broaden its presence with branches in Frankfurt and Paris, the bank said. Since 2015, WFAML has served as the management company for WFAM's Luxembourg-domiciled UCITS, which launched in 2008.


Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was down 2.4%, while tech funds iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW) and iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM) were in the green.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 1.7% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was down 1.6%.

Net Element Inc. (NETE) rose 2% after it said it has acquired certain cash flow assets from Argus Merchant Services LLC and Treasury Payments LLC for a total of $1.42 million. Net Element made the acquisitions through its subsidiary Unified Portfolio Acquisitions, and expects to generate "well over $4 million in gross profits over the next four years" from the assets, it said. In addition, the total billing commitment by Argus to Unified over the next five years is expected to generate more than $19 million in gross margin, said Net Element.


Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was down 2.3% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 2.2%.

Shale gas output at PetroChina's (PTR) Sichuan field hit a daily record of 20.11 million cubic meters on Dec. 24, more than double volumes on the same day a year ago, Reuters reported. The record output comes after the Chinese government called on oil firms to ramp up the pace of exploration in order to meet the country's energy requirements, the company said in its official newspaper. PetroChina has 143 drilling rigs in use, compared with 38 rigs last year, according to the Reuters report. PTR ADRs fell nearly 3%.


Crude was down 2.8%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 3.7%. Natural gas down 1% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 2.1%.

Gold was up 0.6%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.9%. Silver was up 1.4%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 1.5%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV) was down 1.4% while other health care funds including Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare (IYH) were lower. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 2.6%.

Retrophin (RTRX) fell nearly 5% after it said that the first patient has been treated in a late-stage clinical trial evaluating the long-term nephroprotective potential of sparsentan for the treatment of IgA nephropathy (IgAN), a rare kidney disorder that often leads to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). "With no approved therapies indicated for IgA nephropathy, dosing the first patient in the pivotal Protect study brings us closer to our goal of ultimately delivering sparsentan as the first approved therapy for patients living with this rare disorder," Retrophin chief medical officer Noah Rosenberg said in a statement. Approximately 280 patients with IgAN, aged 18 years or older, are expected to be randomized to receive either sparsentan or an active control, irbesartan. The primary efficacy endpoint in the study is the change in proteinuria from baseline after 36 weeks of treatment. Retrophin expects enrollment in the study to be completed in H1 2021, and top-line data from the 36-week primary endpoint efficacy analysis to become available in H1 2022.

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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