Markets continued their post-Christmas coma on Wednesday, as indexes traded within a tight range throughout the day. Strong manufacturing data gave stocks a boost, while an uptick in oil prices eased fears about the energy sector.
Like most major benchmarks, the ETFdb 60 Index was essentially flat, losing 0.39 points to close at 1,029.14. The index is now up 2.9% for the quarter heading into the year’s final session.
The biggest gainer was the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX), which added 1.7% for the session. VXX, which offers exposure to a daily rolling long position in the first and second month VIX futures contracts and reflects the implied volatility of the S&P 500 at various points along the volatility forward curve, had lost more than 15% on the month before Wednesday’s rally.
VXX has been one of the year’s most successful product launches, but also one of the most disappointing from a performance perspective. The ETN has seen cash inflows (through November) of more than $900 million, but is down nearly 70% since its launch in January.
Among the day’s biggest losers was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which has seen its impressive December rally fizzle out over the last two sessions. Natural gas prices have been under tremendous pressure in 2009 as new supplies have flooded the market. Recently, gas producers have begun pushing customers to enter into long-term deals, an indication that industry insiders are bearish on gas prices heading into next year.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.