Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Wednesday's regular session:
SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): -0.6%
iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -0.1%
SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): -1%
VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short Term ETN ( TVIX ): +4.6%
ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF ( UVXY ): +3.7%
Broad Market Indicators
Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including IWM and IVV were lower. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was up 0.1%.
U.S. stocks were lower at the session half, with major indexes weighed down by the materials and industrial sectors amid concerns over a possible trade war after the White House announced it will be implementing tariffs on certain goods, mostly metals. Investors are also keeping a close eye on developments in Washington in the wake of personnel changes, after the firing on Tuesday of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The 0.6% January business inventory rise after a larger than expected upward December revision to 0.6% (originally 0.4%) beat the 0.5% consensus, though with a 0.7% retail inventory rise that undershot the 0.8% increase from the advance indicator report after a 0.3% December rise.
Earlier, the 0.2% February producer price index (PPI) headline and core price were in line with estimates after big 0.4% gains for both in January thanks to a second month with a firm 0.3% service price rise. Otherwise there were the expected 0.5% drop in energy prices with a 0.4% food price decline, though "core" goods prices rose 0.2%.
February retail sales fell 0.1 % versus the 0.4% expected increase while the ex-auto component was also light, up 0.2% versus the 0.4% expected. The 0.3% January decline was revised higher to -0.1%, and the unchanged sales ex-auto figure was nudged up to 0.1% (while the December numbers were lowered). Sales excluding autos, gas, and building materials edged up 0.1% versus the prior flat print.
Power Play: Consumer
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP), Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods (IYK) were lower.
On the other hand, Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was up 0.1%, while retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were in the red.
Signet Jewelers (SIG) sank more than 18% after it reported Q4 adjusted EPS of $4.28, beating the $4.17 per share consensus of analysts polled by Capital IQ. For Q4 ended Feb. 3, revenues rose 1% year-over-year to $2.29 billion, beating expectations for $2.24 billion. Same-store sales fell 5.2% year-over-year. For FY19, Signet expects same-store sales to be down low-to-mid single digits. It also expects adjusted EPS of $3.75 to $4.25 per share, which may not compare to the $6.09 per share consensus, and revenue of $5.9 billion to $6.1 billion, below the $6.14 billion average estimate.
The company also said it sealed a deal to sell its non-prime in-house credit card receivables to investment funds managed by CarVal Investors. The company's board also approved a quarterly cash dividend of $0.37 per share, up 20% from the prior quarterly dividend. It is payable on June 1 to holders of record on May 4, with an ex-dividend date of May 3.
Winners and Losers
The Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was down 1%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 1.9% and its bearish counterpart Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X shares (FAZ) was up 2%.
ADRs of Prudential plc (PUK) were up more than 5% after the company reported a year-over-year increase in its annual earnings and unveiled a plan to split its European and UK businesses from its international operations. FY17 EPS was GBP0.93 ($1.3), up from GBP0.75 a year earlier but below the GBP0.98 average of three analysts polled by Capital IQ. Revenues represented as earned premiums rose to GBP41.94 billion from GBP36.96 billion and beat the GBP40.33 billion average estimate.
In addition, the insurer said it will demerge M&G Prudential, which will result in two separately-listed companies. M&G Prudential will be an independent UK & Europe savings and investment provider that will be premium-listed in London, and Prudential plc will retain its premium listing on the London Stock Exchange. The company added that M&G Prudential will sell GBP12.0 billion of its stockholder annuity portfolio to Rothesay Lief.
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 weaker, even as most funds reached or neared multi-year highs. Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 0.5% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was down 0.3%.
Broadcom (AVGO) fell some 0.7% after it said it had withdrawn its bid to acquire semiconductor maker Qualcomm (QCOM), ending a tumultuous takeover attempt that saw President Donald Trump issue an order halting any potential deal earlier this week. The Singapore-based company that ismoving its corporate headquarters to the US said it will also withdraw its slate of director nominees that it was attempting to have voted onto Qualcomm's board at its upcoming annual meeting.
Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was down 0.4% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.3%.
EV Energy Partners (EVEP) fell more than 62% after it said it has entered into a restructuring support agreement with certain holders of approximately 70% of its 8.0% senior notes due 2019 and lenders holding approximately 94% of the principal amount outstanding under its reserve-based lending facility. The agreement contemplates a comprehensive restructuring of the company's capital structure, to be implemented through a proposed pre-packaged plan of reorganization that will significantly deleverage the company's balance sheet. The company will commence the solicitation of votes to accept or reject the plan Wednesday and commence its prepackaged bankruptcy case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on or before April 8. Neither EnerVest nor EnerVest Operating is seeking chapter 11 bankruptcy relief.
Crude was up 0.03%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.2%. Natural gas was down 2% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 2.3%.
Gold was down 0.1%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.1%. Silver was down 0.5%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.2%.
Health care funds Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare (IYH), were weaker. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 0.1%.
Supernus Pharmaceuticals (SUPN) fell more than 6% after it said late Tuesday it plans to offer $350 million of convertible senior notes due 2023 via a private offering. The specialty pharmaceutical firm added it plans to grant the initial purchasers a 30-day option to acquire up to an additional $52.5 million of notes.
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