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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Higher but Volume Remains Weak; Investors Mull Mixed Economic Data

Highs and Lows Stock Data

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

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.20%, hit an all-time high

iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM ): +0.31%

iShares MSCI Japan ETF ( EWJ ): +0.56%

Direxion Daily Small Cap Bear 3X Shares ( TZA ): -0.77%

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ( EEM ): -0.47%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were higher and some reached record or multi-year highs. Likewise, actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.45%, with a new 13-year high.

U.S. stocks were higher at session's half, with the S&P 500 touching new record intra-day highs - volume remained weak throughout the session. Investors are digesting a slew of mixed economic data released earlier. Automatic Data Processing reported a 179,000 increase in new private payrolls in May, while April figures were revised to 215,000 from the 220,000 new hires originally reported last month. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit expanded 6.3% during April to $47.2 billion from a revised $44.2 billion deficit in March, missing estimates. Q1 productivity also fell a revised 3.2%, nearly double the decline first reported. On the other hand, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its services index for May rose to 56.3 from April's 55.2, beating analyst estimates for an improvement to only 55.3

Still ahead, the Federal Reserve will be releasing its latest Beige Book assessment of economic conditions in its 12 member districts.

Power Play: Technology

Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) and iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW) were weaker, but both hit their 13-year highs; iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM) and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV) were higher, near multi-year highs. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was up 0.40%, with a new all-time high.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) were also firmer.

In corporate news, NQ Mobile Inc. (NQ) surged more than 35% after saying a special audit committee didn't find any evidence of fraud at the developer of mobile security apps. The Chinese company began the review in response to allegations made by Muddy Waters LLC. The investment analysis firm in October said NQ Mobile was a "massive fraud" that overstated revenue as it delayed its annual report for a second time. The company also said its board of directors ordered management to implement improvements to internal controls, as recommended by the investigation team. The team consisted of an independent board committee that was advised by law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP and accounting firm Deloitte & Touche Financial Advisory Services Ltd.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.22%, near multi-year highs. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.72%. Its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was down 0.74%.

Among sector news, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company has entered into an agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Protective Life Corporation (PL) for $70.00 per share in cash, or a total transaction value of approximately $5.7 billion. The acquisition price represents a 34% premium over Protective's closing stock price of $52.30 on May 30. The transaction, which has been approved by both companies' boards of directors, is expected to close by the end of 2014 or early 2015. PL shares were up 18% at a new record high.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) were firmer, nearing record highs.

Among stocks, DryShips (DRYS) was up 5.55% after it announced its majority-owned subsidiary Ocean Rig UDW (ORIG) has signed a drilling contract for one of its semi-submersible drilling rigs, the Eirik Raude, with an estimated backlog of approximately $165 million. The contract is for a minimum six-well program with an estimated duration of about 260 days, for drilling offshore the Falkland Islands. Drilling will start in Q1, 2015.

Commodities

Crude was up 0.12%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.03%. Natural gas was up 0.17% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.67%.

Gold was down 0.03% and silver was up 0.20%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.22% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.11%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV), iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) edged higher. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 0.89%.

In corporate news, Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) was up 26% after the company said late Tuesday that its Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for oral HETLIOZ (tasimelteon) capsules was accepted for evaluation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the treatment of Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24). HETLIOZ has been granted orphan drug designation for the treatment of Non-24 in blind people with no light perception from the European Commission. HETLIOZ was approved by the FDA in January 2014 and is available through specialty pharmacies in the U.S.

Consumer

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

Among stocks, Rentrak (RENT) was down 8% after it reported late Tuesday a net loss that slightly widened in its fiscal Q4 even as revenue jumped 40%. Net loss including discontinued operations, was $2.1 million, or $0.17 loss per share, for the three-month period ended March 31, compared with a net loss of $2.0 million, or $0.17 loss per share, for the year-earlier period. Excluding discontinued operations, Q4 net earnings were $0.08 per diluted share. Q4 revenue increased to $21.6 million from $15.4 million year-over-year. The average of 3 analysts' estimates compiled by Capital IQ was per-share loss of $0.04 on revenue of $21.5 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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