Europe continued to dominate financial headlines on Thursday, as worries about the impact of the debt crisis on global growth intensified. Major benchmarks lost more than 3% as union workers in Greece went on strike to protest austerity measures and the euro zone’s common currency continued its slide against major rivals. Meanwhile in Washington, the Senate cleared the way for a final vote on a comprehensive overhaul of the financial sector, voting to end almost a month of debate on the topic.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through exchange-traded products, dropped 24.27 points, or 2.4%, to close at 993.65. The benchmark dropped below the 1,000 point level for the first time since February, as losers outnumbered winners by more than five-to-one on the day.
Among the biggest losers on the day was the iShares MSCI Pacific ex-Japan Index Fund (EPP), which slid 5.8%. EPP’s holdings include a heavy allocation to Australia, which saw markets sink to their lowest level since August. The Australian dollar also continued its freefall; it’s now at the lowest level against the U.S. dollar in more than eight months.
The big winner on Thursday was once again the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX), which surged 14.1%. VXX has thrived on uncertainty in the markets over the last month, as the sharp rise in the “fear index” has reflected investors’ anxiety over coming months. Volume for VXX was nearly 80 million shares on the day, compared to an average daily tally of about 13 million.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.