Following two consecutive days of steep losses, investors were hoping for a rebound in Thursday’s session. Instead, they endured one of the biggest declines in recent memories; major indexes plunged as much as 9% during intraday trading before regaining ground late in the day. No specific incident set the selling spree in motion; anxiety continued to build over the future of the euro zone and the likelihood of a successful Greek bailout seemed to diminish materially (see Six ETFs To Watch As The Greek Drama Unfolds). Despite violent public protests, Greek lawmakers approved a controversial bill, paving the way for the cash-strapped government to access emergency funds from the EU and IMF. Elsewhere, Bernanke sought to protect the Fed from a congressional audit while a release of minutes from last month’s meeting indicated that the government is planning to sell some of its $1.1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, lost 22.85 points, or 2.2%, plunging it into negative territory on the year. Aggregate trading volume for index components was 2.3 billion shares, by far the most active day of the year.
Among the biggest losers on the day was the iShares MSCI Pacific ex-Japan Index Fund (EPP), which slid 6.1% on the day. EPP maintains significant exposure to Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, all of which were hit hard by Thursday’s turmoil (see EPP’s holdings). The iShares MSCI Australia Index Fund (EWA) lost 6.7% on the day, as the commodity-dependent economy was hit by a double whammy of falling stock prices and a strengthening dollar.
There were a handful of winners amidst Thursday’s chaos. The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) gained another 11%, continuing its impressive run higher; VXX is now up more than 30% over the last week. Also heading higher on Thursday were traditional safe havens; the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) added 2.2% while the PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish (UUP) finished up 0.8%. Only one equity component of the ETFdb 60 finished Thursday in positive territory; the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which invests in companies engaged in the mining and extraction of gold, added 1.3% on the day.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.