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Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Modestly Higher on Upbeat Earnings, Strong Economic Data

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

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

VelocityShares 3X Long Crude ETN ( UWTI ): +7.6%

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN ( VXX ): -0.9%

ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ( UVXY ): -2.2%

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -0.01%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were posting modest gains at mid-day. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.4%.

U.S. stocks were in positive territory and off session lows, as upbeat earnings and mostly strong economic data helped lift market sentiment.

J.P. Morgan's (JPM) and Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) earnings beat analysts' estimates, while Wells Fargo (WFC) had mixed results.

In economic data, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that its small-business optimism index for March fell 2.8 points to 95.2 - the lowest reading since June. Meanwhile, February business inventories rose 0.3%, in line with expectations, and compared with a flat reading in the prior month.

Earlier, the Commence Department reported that retail sales for March rose 0.9% or by 0.4% excluding the auto sector, after three straight monthly declines. Economists had expected an increase of 1.1% or 0.7% minus autos. The producer-price index for March also increased 0.2% - the first gain since October. Expectations were for a 0.3% increase.

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

Semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was down 1.5%, and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was down 0.9%.

Nokia (NOK) was down 3.8% after the company confirmed in a statement that it is in advanced discussions with fellow communications firm Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) for a potential merger transaction, which would take the form of an offer by Nokia for Alcatel-Lucent. The Finnish company, however, warned that there is no certainty discussions will result in any agreement or transaction. ALU shares were up 11.5% to a 4-year high.

Winners and Losers

Financial

Select Financial Sector SPDRs (XLF) was up 0.6%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was down 1.6%, while Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares (FAZ) was down 1.6%.

Wells Fargo (WFC) was down 1.3% after the financial firm reported Q1 earnings above analysts' consensus estimate, but revenue slightly missed the Street view. Net income applicable to common stock totaled $5.46 billion, or $1.04 per diluted share, compared with $5.61 billion, or $1.05 per diluted share, a year earlier. The per-share comparison was skewed by a 2% decline in the number of shares outstanding. Analysts polled by Capital IQ had predicted a profit of $0.98 per share, on average. Total revenue edged up to $21.28 billion from $20.63 billion, slightly missing analysts' mean estimate of $21.31 billion. Total average loans rose 5% to $863.3 billion, while total average deposits climbed 9% to $1.2 trillion.

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.

Norfolk Souther (NSC) was down 5.6% after shares were downgraded by TD Securities to hold from buy, and the firm lowered its price target to $110 from $120.

Energy

Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was up 1.7% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 1.7%.

Eclipse Resources (ECR) was up 10.1% after it reported Q1 natural gas production was up 316% YOY, but that it would cut its 2015 capital budget by 57% YOY to $352 million, and that it will not enter into joint ventures. ECR, an oil-and-gas gas driller in the Appalachian Basin, including the Utica and Marcellus shales, estimated that Q1 production averaged 160 MMcfe per day, a 316% increase YOY, and a 29% increase sequentially. For the full year 2015, ECR expects production to be between180 MMcfe per day and 190 MMcfe per day, representing production growth at the midpoint of 154% YOY. ECR reported that it approved a capital budget of $352 million for 2015, down 57% YOY, and 45% below the initial capital budget for 2015. ECR also said that as it recently completed a $434 million private placement, and has a $125 million revolver currently underway, it has decided to forego joint ventures.

Commodities

Crude was up 3.1%; United States Oil Fund (USO) was up 2.4%. Natural gas was up 0.6% and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 1.3%.

Gold was down 0.5%, and silver was down 0.6%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.6% and iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.5%.

Health Care

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 0.4%.

BioLife Solutions (BLFS) was up 20.4% after it reported Monday that for Q1 2015, preliminary revenue reached $1.5 million. The average estimate from two analysts on Capital IQ is for revenue of $1.5 million. Quarterly revenue was comprised of core proprietary product revenue, and represented 30% growth over the same period of 2014. The company also said that proprietary revenue growth was driven by a 92% year over year increase from customers in the regenerative medicine segment.

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 modestly higher.

China Ceramics Co. (CCCL) rose 22.5% to a new 52-week high, after reporting Q414 revenue and profit that increased from the year prior. CCCL was higher nearly 20% recently, on heavy volume of 4.1 million shares. Average daily volume is 46,738 shares. Earlier in the trading session shares hit $1.94, setting a new 52-week high. The 52-week low is at $0.71. Revenue was RMB 240.1 million, or US $38.7 million, up 9.0% from the Q413. Gross profit was RMB 29.1 million, or $4.7 million, as compared to a gross loss of RMB 6.5 million in Q413. Net profit was RMB 4.8 million, or $0.8 million, as compared to net loss of RMB 10.6 million in Q413. Analyst estimates were not available.

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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