Exchange traded funds (ETFs) opened flat on Wall Street on Tuesday, as investors took in news of China’s latest rate hike and awaited ISM services-sector data and the minutes of the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
- The Institute for Supply Management’s services-sector index for March fell to 57.3% from 59.7% in February, the private group reported on Tuesday. Economists expected the ISM services index to edge down to 59.0% last month from February’s number, which was the highest level in six years. Any reading over 50% indicates that more firms are expanding than contracting. The Material Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLB) is trading flat early Tuesday.
- Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday delivered the latest in a series of ratings-agency downgrades to Portugal’s government bonds, citing fears the country will have difficulty meeting its deficit-reduction goals and underlining expectations the country will be forced to seek a bailout. “Moody’s believes that the government’s current cost of funding is nearing a level that is unsustainable, even in the short term. A critical part of the review will focus on the ability of the government to secure financing at a less elevated level, either through the capital markets or through [European Union] support,” Moody’s said. The iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index ETF (NYSEArca: EWU) is up slightly today.
- National Semiconductor Corp.’s shares rallied in premarket trade Tuesday, a day after Texas Instruments Inc. set plans to buy the tech firm for $25 a share, a 78% premium to its Monday closing price. National Semiconductor’s (NYSE:NSM) shares surged 72% to $24.19. Meanwhile, Texas Instruments’ (NYSE: TXN) shares slipped about 1%. The all-cash deal, with a value of about $6.5 billion, sent shares of other chip makers higher, too, as analysts said consolidation is likely to continue. The Direxion Daily Semiconductor Bull 3x Shares ETF (NYSEArca: SOXL) jumped almost 6% early Tuesday.
- The U.S. dollar gained ground against the Euro and Japanese yen on Tuesday as an unexpected rate increase from China and another downgrade of Portugal’s credit rating spurred interest in the greenback as an alternative. The dollar index, a measure of the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, rose to 76.114 from 75.912 in North American trade late Monday. Earlier, the greenback got a lift from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said Monday evening that commodity prices are being driven primarily by global supply and demand and don’t threaten a major acceleration of inflation. The PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSEArca: UUP) rose moderatel.
Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.
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