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EWJ

Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Higher as Crude Oil Prices Rally, Upstaging Weak Inventories Data

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.3%

Direxion Daily Gold Miners Index Bear 3X Shares ( DUST ): -8.1%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ( VXX ) -2.5%

United States Oil Fund ( USO ): +5.6%

iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund ( EWJ ) +3.1%.

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were firmer. Meanwhile, actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) is down 0.2%.

U.S. stocks were in positive territory at the session's half following a rally in oil, as well as upbeat remarks regarding the U.S. economy from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and New York Fed President William Dudley this morning.

In economic data news, wholesale inventories fell by 0.5% in February. This is the fifth drop in five months, offering more evidence that first-quarter growth will be weak. Inventories of durable goods were down 0.1% while inventories of nondurable goods such as groceries and clothing fell 1.1%. Wholesale sales, meanwhile, slipped 0.2%.

Power Play: Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 2.2% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was 2.1% higher.

Lucas Energy (LEI) soared 19.1% after the independent oil and gas company said on Thursday that it has secured $10 million of equity capital from an institutional investor. The initial investment is structured as a redeemable convertible subordinated debenture which will automatically convert into common stock at an initial conversion price of $3.25 per share. It didn't name the investor. At closing, this placement will provide $500,000 of funding immediately, and the balance of $4.5 million through the exercise of a warrant upon the closing of a transaction to buy Segundo Resources assets; shareholder approval to issue the common shares for NYSE MKT purposes; registration of the underlying common stock and a dollar volume trading requirement of $5 million in the previous 20 trading days. Lucas also agreed to issue an additional $5.0 million of a newly designated Series C Redeemable Convertible Preferred Stock of which $500,000 will be funded upon closing of the announced Segundo Transaction, and the balance upon achieving certain milestones. The Series C Redeemable Convertible Preferred Stock will also be convertible into common stock at an initial conversion price of $3.25 per share.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.8%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) is up 2.4% while its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 2.4%.

MGIC Investment (MTG) was up 2.4% after it reported a 5.4% increase in the amount of insurance policies in force at the end of March compared with the same month last year.

Technology

Tech funds were trading higher, but slightly behind 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. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was up 0.3%.

Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) is up 0.1% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.4%.

Marketo (MKTO) jumped 10% after JMP Securities said Friday that unnamed industry sources had told them the company had given presentations to SAP (SAP) and Microsoft (MSFT). JMP said this suggest the software company is a potential take-over target. SAP shares were down 0.7% while MSFT shares were up 0.1%.

Commodities

Crude was up 6.2%; natural gas was down 0.8%. United States Oil Fund ( USO ) was up 5.7%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was 1% lower.

Gold was up 0.3% and silver was up 1.2%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was off $0.1%; iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was up 0.8%.

Consumer

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

Gap (GPS) was down 14% after it reported March same-store sales fell 6% compared to a 2% increase in the year-ago period. Net sales for the five-week period ended April 2 were $1.43 billion compared with net sales of $1.53 billion for the five-week period ended April 4, 2015. It says it is entering April with more inventory than planned which the company expects will pressure its gross margin rate for Q1.

Health Care

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

Viking Therapeutics (VKTX) was down 39% and earlier hit an all-time low after pricing a 7.5 million share offering at $1.25, a 35% discount to Thursday's closing price. The five-year warrants are exercisable at $1.50 per share. The offering will result in gross proceeds of approximately $9.4 million and will close on April 13.

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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