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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Modestly Higher on Improved Consumer Confidence Data

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

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

VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Ipath ( VXX ): +0.6%

iShares Russell 2000 ETF ( IWM ): -0.1%

PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +0.1%

Daily Inverse VIX ST ETN Velocityshares ( XIV ): -0.7%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV inched higher. Actively-traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was up 0.1%.

U.S. stocks were struggling to hold on to modest gains at session's half, as a new report showed that consumer confidence rose to an eight-month high of 103.0, topping expectations, which helped lift market sentiment.

In earlier economic data releases, home prices rose 0.6% in July, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite, but on a seasonally adjusted basis, prices slipped 0.2%.

Power Play: Health Care

Health care funds were firmer, ahead of the broader market. Health Care SPDR (XLV), iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) and Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) were firmer. Biotech ETF iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 1.8%.

OvaScience (OVAS) was down 38% after saying it doesn't expect to meet its 2015 goal of 1,000 AUGMENT treatment cycles. The company said evolving market dynamics in the fertility space, including recent merger and acquisition activities at the key commercial IVF clinics where the AUGMENT treatment is offered, have hindered its ability to drive major volume that was anticipated in Q4. Despite this, goals for the firm's OvaPrime and OvaTure treatments remain on track for 2015, with plans to introduce the OvaPrime treatment in patients outside the U.S. and to communicate its development strategy for the OvaTure treatment.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Funds in the financial sector were weaker, but slightly ahead of the broader market. Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was down 0.1%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 0.5%; Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares (FAZ) was up 0.2%.

Fifth Third Bank (FITB) was off 0.2% after saying it reached a settlement with the Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) involving alleged discriminatory practices in connection with the bank's indirect automobile loan portfolio. Fifth Third has now agreed to implement a new dealer compensation policy. It also agreed that it will first secure a determination of non-objection from the CFPB before adopting any new compliance plans for advertising, marketing, promotion, offering or sale of any credit card add-on products, or before marketing or selling similar debt protection add-on products.

Technology

Tech funds were inched higher, slightly ahead of 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 in negative territory. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was down 0.5%.

Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 0.4%, while Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 0.9%.

Comtech Telecommunications (CMTL) fell 17% after reporting that net income fell to $5.5 million, or $0.34 per diluted share in the three months ended July 31, from $7.9 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, a year earlier. Q4 sales decreased to $77.5 million from $89.4 million year-over-year. Two analysts on average had predicted earnings of $0.37 and revenue of $82.6 million, according to Capital IQ data. In a separate statement, Comtech declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 per share, unchanged from the dividend paid in the previous quarter. This dividend is payable on November 20, to shareholders of record at the close of business on October 19.

Energy

Energy funds were moderately higher, underperforming the broader market. Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was down 0.03% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.3%.

Cheniere Energy (LNG) was up 2.2% after Carl Icahn disclosed he raised his stake in the liquefied natural gas company by 8.2%. As disclosed in an SEC filing, the activist investor bought an additional 2 million shares at an average price of $47.14 per share, or an aggregate purchase price of $96.3 million.

Commodities

Crude was up 2.1%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 2%. Natural gas was up 2.1% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 2%. Gold was down 0.1%, and SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.1%.

Consumer

Funds in the consumer sector inched higher, 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 red.

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

Tuesday Morning (TUES) was down 18.5% after the Dallas-based off-price retailer said that CEO Michael Rouleau will step down with immediate effect. Rouleau will remain with the company in a consultative capacity until March 31 2016 to help ensure a smooth transition. The company also formed a new Office of the Chairman, led by current board chairman Steven Becker to help oversee the company's strategic initiatives until a new CEO is named. The board also formed a search committee and retained executive search firm Herbert Mines Associates to identify and evaluate candidates.

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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