U.S. stock markets continued their rally on Thursday, as better-than-expected retail sales and strong earnings from Dow component Alcoa lifted most equity benchmarks. But the biggest winners for the session were metals ETNs. The iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Total Return Sub-IndexSM ETN (JJC) jumped more than 3.5% as a struggling U.S. dollar and upbeat economic data spurred speculation that demand for pipes and wires will soon rise. The PowerShares DB Base Metals Fund (DBB), which invests in aluminum, zinc, and copper, gained more than 5% on the day.
Supply concerns also gave copper an upward push, as BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, announced that it may take two weeks to investigate an accident at the Olympic Dam mine in Australia. The mine is currently producing ore, but production would likely cease if the company decides to pursue its investigation.
Other big gainers Thursday included Asia Pacific equities, as the iShares MSCI Pacific ex-Japan Index Fund (EPP) added more than 3%. EPP was pushed higher on Alcoa earnings and news that Australian employers unexpectedly added workers last month.
Thursday’s losers included the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX), which dropped 0.6% for its fifth straight losing session. Implied volatility on the S&P 500 has plummeted in recent months as expectations for a sustained economic recovery have taken root.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.