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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Lower On Worries Over Weak Economic Growth, Possible Greek Default

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

VelocityShares 3X Long Crude ETN ( UWTI ): +1.2%

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): -0.1%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): +0.4

VelocityShares 3X Long Natural Gas ETN ( UGAZ ): +6.1%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX ): -1.6%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV continued to trade in negative territory. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.1%.

U.S. stocks were still weaker, but pulled back from session lows, as concerns over lackluster economic growth, unresolved issues between Greece and its international creditors, and new weakness in the energy sector overshadowed upbeat earnings results from companies such as Goldman Sachs (GS), Blackstone Group (BX), Netflix (NFLX) and Travelzoo (TZOO).

Earlier, the Labor Department said weekly jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 294,000, its highest level in six weeks and trailing expectations looking for a decline of 1,000 to 280,000. The previous week was revised upward by 1,000 to 282,000. Housing starts, meanwhile, grew 2.0% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 926,000 new starts - but missed expectations for a 16% gain to 1.040 million annualized pace. Also, the Philadelphia Fed index increased to a 7.0 reading in April from March's 5.0, beating estimates for a gain to just 6.0. Although the index that measures manufacturing activity improved this month, it is still significantly lower than November's 40.8 index.

In news abroad, European markets closed mostly negative after the International Monetary Fund warned Greece to not ask for an extension to its May loan payment, saying it is unlikely to be given.

Power Play: Technology

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. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was flat.

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

Netflix (NFLX) surged 15.4% to a fresh lifetime high Thursday morning after the Internet video-streaming company reported better-than-expected Q1 adjusted earnings on revenue that met analysts' expectations. GAAP net income fell to $23.7 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, from $53.1 million, or $0.86 per diluted share, a year earlier. The company's Q1 adjusted earnings per share, which exclude foreign-exchange losses, totaled $0.77, well ahead of the analyst consensus of $0.63 per share according to Capital IQ and the company's forecast of $0.60 per share. Revenue totaled $1.57 billion, up from $1.27 billion in the prior-year period and in line with the Street's consensus expectation. The company added 4.9 million new members globally in Q1, above its forecast of 4.1 million. Its total global streaming membership is at 62.3 million. In the U.S., it added 2.3 million new members, better than its expectation of 1.8 million.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.2%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.2%, while Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares (FAZ) was down 0.4%.

Blackstone (BX) was up 1.9% after beating estimates with its Q1 earnings and revenue figures. The investment firm reported Q1 revenue of $2.51 billion, versus $1.51 billion in the same period last year. This was ahead of the $2.06 billion Capital IQ consensus. GAAP net income for the quarter was $629.4 million, versus $265.6 million last year. Economic net income was $1.62 billion, versus $813.9 million in Q1 2014. On a per-share basis, this came out at $1.37, versus $0.70 last year. Distributable earnings were $1.05 per share, up from $0.40 per share in the year ago quarter. The results were above the $1.04 consensus estimate.

Industrial

Industrial ETFs iShares Trust Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector Index Fund (IYJ), Vanguard Industrials (VIS) and Select Sector SPDR-Industrial (XLI) were weaker.

Insteel Industries (IIIN) was down 3.5% after it reported that it missed on both sales and earnings in Q1. The steel wire reinforcing product manufacturer reported Q1 sales of $101.8 million, versus $91.4 million in the same period last year. This fell short of the $107.7 million Capital IQ consensus. Earnings for the quarter came in at $2.5 million, down from $3.5 million in the prior year quarter. On a per share basis, earnings were $0.14 versus $0.19 last year, although this includes a $0.04 gain on items. Excluding these items, per-share earnings would be $0.10 for the quarter. This is below the $0.24 consensus estimate, if comparable.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was down 0.1% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was down 0.1%.

ForceField Energy (FNRG) was down 18.1%, hitting a new 52-week low, after the company responded to what it says is inaccurate statements made in a recent MoxReports research report. In a press release ForceField Energy argued it has disclosed all material information in a timely manner and in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission and that no member of the executive management team has any SEC, FINRA or other regulatory or civil violations as implied by the report. In addition, the company said it is current in its filings and has never made a late filing beyond any allowable extension period. ForceField went on to note that while its accurate to state that its CEO David Natan's previous company came under regulator and civil scrutiny while he was CFO, the report didn't mention there were never any accounting irregularities or findings against Natan. Finally ForceField contends the writer of the report made no attempts to discuss the contents of the report with the company.

Commodities

Crude was up 4.9%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 0.4%. Natural gas was up 0.6% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 2.8%.

Gold was up 0.5%, and silver was up 0.7%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.5% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.4%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV), iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) were weaker. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 0.1%.

Pernix Therapeutics (PTX) was down 18.2% after the company provided guidance for the quarter ended March 31, 2015 below Street estimates, and announced the commencement of a private offering of $120 million aggregate principal amount of the company's convertible senior notes due 2021. The company expects net sales for Q1 to be between $32 million and $35 million, compared with $19 million for the same period in 2014. Analysts polled by Capital IQ were expecting revenue of $49.52 million. For 2015, the company expects sales in the range of $220 to $240 million, straddling the Street consensus of $237.5 million.

Consumer

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 Select Sector SPDR (XLY) , SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) , PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were mixed.

Travelzoo (TZOO) was up 21.1% after reporting a decline in Q1 earnings and revenue that nevertheless exceeded analysts' estimates. The internet media company that reviews travel and entertainment deals said earnings fell to $1.9 million or $0.13 per diluted share from $4.6 million or $0.31 a year ago, but exceeded the $0.08 average estimate from analysts polled by Capital IQ. Revenue fell to $36.5 million from $40.2 million but topped the $34.8 million consensus.

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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