Signs of weakness in the impressive equity market rally began to show on Wednesday, as housing starts unexpectedly plummeted and concerns about earnings from the technology sector began to pop up. Most major benchmarks lost ground for the session, as did the ETFdb 60 Index, which shed 2.28 points to close at 1,024.96. Losers outnumbered winners by more than two-to-one in relatively light volume.
One of the biggest decliners on Wednesday was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which lost 3.3% as continued concerns over a glut of supply weighed on prices. Natural gas inventories have reached all-time highs in recent months as the impact of new discoveries and implementation of new technologies has worked its way through the markets. UNG has now lost more than 65% over the last year, but continues to be one of the most active exchange-traded products. Volume on Tuesday topped 37 million shares.
Other exchange-traded commodity products performed much better on Wednesday. They United States Crude Oil Fund (USO) gained 0.5%, and is now up almost 23% year-to-date. The once reliable relationship between crude oil and natural gas prices has broken down this year, heading in completely different directions.
The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index Fund (IYR) bounced back from a big loss on Tuesday to gain almost 1.7% on Wednesday. Real estate ETFs are likely to be in focus in coming months as the fate of commercial real estate sector is determined. To this point, fallout from bad loans in this space has been relatively minimal, but many investors believe that a major storm is brewing.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.