Stock exchange traded funds were slightly higher Wednesday as Dell (NasdaqGS: DELL) lifted tech ETFs but weak results from Staples (NasdaqGS: SPLS) sparked concerns over the consumer sector. Investors remain cautious prior to the Federal Reserve’s assessment of the economy.

Dell shares rallied about 5% Wednesday following strong quarterly results. Wall Street analysts cheered the company’s gross margin but expressed concern over weak revenue. Brean Murray analysts boosted their target price on Dell shares to $19 “on the back of much stronger than anticipated gross margin,” according to a note. The stock “will likely trade up today but could soften through the day as revenue was softer in most areas … Looking forward, we expect the stock to remain somewhat volatile and could likely again be prone to bouts of trading a bit disconnected from ultimate results.”[Dell Revenue, Gross Margin Put Tech ETFs in Focus]

A 15% sell-off in Staples rained on the parade in retail ETFs, which have rallied this year. The office-supplies company reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and cut its full-year view. “Our first-quarter results show that we’re making good progress on our key growth initiatives and we’re gaining share in North America, but at a cost to our bottom line,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chief executive. [Staples Pullback to Ring Up Retail ETFs]

Quarterly earnings Wednesday from Deere (NYSE: DE) were set to drive ETFs that invest in agribusiness and industrial stocks. ETFs such as the $4 billion Market Vectors Agribusiness (NYSEArca: MOO), which holds 8% in Deere, could see weakness after the quarterly report. Deere shares slipped about 1% before the bell Wednesday. Likewise, the $4 billion SPDR Industrial Select Sector Fund (NYSEArca: XLI) holds 2.9% in Deere. [Deere Earnings Drive Agribusiness and Industrial ETFs]

Metals ETFs for silver and gold were set to rise Wednesday, but investors have been yanking money from these ETFs amid their recent decline. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) was up nearly 2% before the bell. “With the volatility in commodities, it should be no surprise that [ETF] flows there are strongly negative for the quarter,” said Nicholas Colas, ConvergEx Group chief market strategist, in a note Wednesday. [Investors Pull Money From Silver, Gold ETFs]

ETFs that invest in silver rallied nearly 4% on Wednesday, raising questions over whether the metal can recover after its recent drubbing on higher margin requirements for futures contracts. [Silver ETFs Find Footing]

Investors have put almost as much money into ETFs in the first half of the second quarter as they did through all of the first quarter, according to a report Wednesday. ETFs have attracted $20.4 billion of new assets quarter-to-date as compared to $27.2 billion for the first quarter, according to Nicholas Colas, ConvergEx Group chief market strategist. He said investors are gravitating toward “old-school” ETFs such as those that invest in stocks and bonds with inflows of $14.2 billion and $5.5 billion, respectively, quarter-to-date. [Investors Plowing Cash Into ETFs in Second Quarter]

Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.