Investors returned from the Christmas holiday with a lot of international news to digest, ranging from a terrorist plot originating in Africa to unrest in Iran. But on Wall Street, all was relatively calm, with most major benchmarks little changed and little in the way of major news to give stocks direction.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, added 2.06 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1,031.45, its highest level of the quarter.
The day’s biggest winner was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which added more than 5% to keep its now three-week old rally going. Since closing at $8.51 on December 3, UNG has added more than 25%, finishing the last Monday of 2009 at $10.84. UNG has been one of the most volatile ETFs of the year, and Monday was the 38th time in 2009 that the fund has swung by at least 5% in a single session.
Today’s surge was attributable primarily to cold weather across the country over the long holiday weekend. UNG opened Monday sharply higher than its previous close, and actually traded within a relatively narrow band for the day. Last Thursday, the EIA reported that stocks of natural gas dropped by 166 billion cubic feet for the week ended December 18, roughly in line with analyst estimates. Inventories are still nearly 12% above year-ago levels.
Among the biggest losers on Monday was the Claymore/NYSE Arca Airline ETF (FAA), which shed about 2.5% following a failed attempt to detonate explosives on a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day. Delta, which accounted for about 18% of FAA’s assets last week, lost more than 4% on the day.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.