Mid-Day ETF Update: ETFs, Stocks Push Higher as Trump Tweet Relieves Syria Tensions

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

iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund ( EEM ): -0.8%

SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY ): +0.9%

SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial ( XLF ): +1.6%

VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short Term ETN ( TVIX ): -5.9%

PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ( QQQ ): +1.2%

Broad Market Indicators

Broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM and IVV were lower. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ ) was up 1.2%.

US stocks were higher at session's half, with all major averages gaining ground as diminished geopolitical risks in the Mideast coupled with the upbeat outlook for Q1 earnings drove the blue chip index up by more than 300 points on outsized gains in financial and technology shares.

President Donald Trump's tweet early Thursday morning removed the immediate risk of US-led airstrikes against Syrian government forces. Pre-market gains were amplified by market-friendly economic data, including import and export prices and a less-than-expected decline in initial jobless claims.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 233,000 versus expectations for a 230,000 reading. The import price index, meanwhile, was flat in March because of the lower cost of oil. Excluding fuel, import prices rose 0.2% last month.

Power Play: Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV) was up 1% and other health care funds Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were higher. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was up 1.4%.

Catalyst Biosciences (CBIO) rose more than 4% after it said the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety approved the addition of a sixth group of patients to the phase 1/2 trial of CB 2679d in individuals with severe hemophilia B following positive data from the multi-dose fifth group that was disclosed on February 9. Initiation of the phase 2b trial was on track for Q3, the company said. The sixth group will enroll up to five patients. Each individual will receive a single intravenous loading dose of 75 IU/kg, followed by nine daily subcutaneous doses of 150 IU/kg CB 2679d, the company said.

Winners and Losers


The Select Financial Sector SPDRs ( XLF ) was up 1.8%. Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 3.8% and its bearish counterpart Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3X shares (FAZ) was up 3.7%.

American International Group (AIG) rose marginally after it said it has reached an innovative global tax compliance and technology operating agreement with Ernst & Young. The deal involves a combination of managed tax services and the transfer of select AIG employees to EY. The members of AIG's global tax compliance and tax technology teams integrated into EY's tax technology and direct and indirect tax compliance practices at the US federal, state, local and global levels will allow AIG to leverage EY's managed tax services and technology backbone, while focusing the company's internal tax team on more strategic initiatives, the company said. The collaborative managed services agreement allows both organizations to more effectively and efficiently navigate changes in the tax landscape, according to the statement.


Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was up 1.3% and other tech funds 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 higher.

Among semiconductor ETFs, SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) was up 1.4% and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) was up 1.9%.

NetSol Technologies (NTWK) shares fell more than 1% after it said it has been hired by a top-tier multi-finance company to deploy its mobile point-of-sale system in Indonesia to originate credit applications and provide quick turnaround to customers seeking finance and leasing products. The new contract includes a product license, five-year maintenance agreement, and agreed upon rates for any additional customization of the application. This contract marks the second implementation of NetSol's mobile point-of-sale technology in Indonesia in less than a year.


Dow Jones US Energy Fund (IYE) was up 0.1% and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.03%.

Williams Partners (WPZ) was down marginally after it said that its Transco natural gas pipeline subsidiary has filed an application with the Federal Regulatory Commission asking approval for its Southeastern Trail expansion project. The expansion is expected to create an additional 296,375 dekatherms per day of transportation capacity to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern US.


Crude was down 0.1%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 0.1%. Natural gas was up 0.4% while United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was up 0.5%.

Gold was up 1.4%. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 1%. Silver was down 1.5%, while iShares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.8%.


Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was up 0.3% and other funds Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) and iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) were firmer.

Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was up 0.6% and retail funds SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were in the green.

Walt Disney (DIS) shares were down marginally even as the company released sports streaming app ESPN+ with a $4.99 a month subscription price as the media blue chip company increasingly works its way into on-demand entertainment services. The app offers live games, a basketball show with Kobe Bryant and the archives of ESPN's 30 for 30 sports documentary series, Walt Disney said in a statement on Thursday. The theme park operator and movie producer has been putting more focus on direct-to-consumer entertainment amid a rise in popularity of services such as Netflix (NFLX) and's (AMZN) Video.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

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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