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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Firmer as Leading Economic Index Turns Positive; Upbeat Jobless Claims, Philly Fed Index Help Lift Sentiment

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): -0.2%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +1%

VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Ipath ( VXX ): -3.8%

Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX ): +3.8%

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): +1.1%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV edged lower. Actively-traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 1%.

U.S. stocks maintained their gains following the news that the leading economic index jumped 0.6% in October after declining in the two previous months, while a measure of current conditions rose 0.2%.

Earlier gains were spurred by mostly positive economic data. Among them, weekly jobless claims fell by 5,000 to 271,000 versus forecasts of a decline to 270,000. Continuing claims were 2,000 lower compared to the prior week.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Index for November showed a reading of positive 1.9 from the unrevised reading of negative 4.5 in October and was above expectations for the index to remain flat.

Power Play: Consumer

Consumer staples funds were in positive territory, in line with the broader market. 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 and retail funds were performing in line with the broader market. Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY), SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were also firmer.

Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) was up 23% after the beverage company reported Q4 adjusted EPS was $0.85, down from $0.94 a year earlier but above the $0.70 per share mean estimate compiled by Capital IQ. Sales were $1.04 billion, just ahead of the Street view of $1.03 billion, but a decline from the $1.19 billion recorded in the year ago quarter. For fiscal 2016, the company expects adjusted EPS of $3.25 to $3.45, compared to the $3.44 consensus. On a currency neutral-basis, sales are forecast flat to low single-digit growth versus fiscal 2015. At current exchange rates, foreign currency is forecast to negatively impact net sales growth by 1%, Keurig said. The company also said it will increase its annualized dividend to $1.30 per share from $1.15 per share, starting with the Feb. 16 quarterly dividend payment of $0.325 payable to shareholders of record on Jan. 15.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Funds in the financial sector were higher, in line with the broader market. Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 0.01%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 0.1%; Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares (FAZ) was down 0.1%.

United Bancorp (UBCP) was up 4.1% after increasing the Q4 dividend payment by 11.1%. The quarterly dividend went to $0.10 a share from $0.09 a share. It is payable Dec. 18 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 8.

Technology

Tech funds were higher, keeping pace with the broader market. 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. Meanwhile SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was off 0.1%.

Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 0.5%, and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.2%.

InterCloud Systems, Inc (ICLD) was up 26.6% after it said Thursday that it won over $2.3 million in new contracts. Specific details of the contracts were not disclosed. "Our sales pipeline of new opportunities has been steady in the $140 million range for almost a year now and gives us the foresight that our growth should continue into 2016. InterCloud has double digit revenue growth in 2015, gross profit margin increases to 33%, adjusted EBITDA growth of over $5 million since 2014, brand name fortune 100 customers, and operating divisions performing at their highest levels. InterCloud has paid down and extinguished approximately $3.4 million of senior debt in 2015 and today only has $4.2 million of senior debt against approximately $18 million in accounts receivable," said CEO Mark Munro.

Energy

Energy funds were weaker, below the broader market. Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was down 2% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 2%.

WPX Energy (WPX) was down 3.5% after announcing it completed the sale of a North Dakota gathering system for about $185 million. The sale was to a private equity fund managed by the Ares EIF Group, a unit of Ares Management. The sale is part of the company's deleveraging plan targeting $400 million $500 million in divestitures by the end of 2015. WPX also recently completed an $80 million sale of its coalbed methane properties in Wyoming.

Commodities

Crude was down 1.1%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.9%. Natural gas futures were down 1.9%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 0.5%. Gold was up 1% and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 1.1%.

Health Care

Health care funds were in the red, in line with the broader market. Health Care SPDR (XLV), iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) were weaker. Meanwhile. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 1.5%.

Celladon (CLDN) was up 10.8% after striking a deal to merge with privately-held Eiger BioPharmaceuticals. Under the terms of the deal, Celladon is expected to issue approximately 85.0 million new shares of its common stock to Eiger stockholders and participants in the financing. On a pro forma basis for the combined company, current Celladon shareholders are expected to own approximately 22%, current Eiger shareholders approximately 45% and the new Eiger investor syndicate approximately 33%, each on a fully-diluted basis. The investor syndicate has committed to invest $39.5 million in the combined company, including new investors HBM Healthcare Investments, RA Capital Management, Sabby Management, Sphera Global Healthcare, Perceptive Advisors and Monashee Capital Partners together with existing long-time Eiger stockholders ViVo Capital and InterWest Partners.

The total cash balance of the combined company upon the closing of the proposed merger and the financing is expected to be greater than $60 million.

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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