Thursday’s freefall intensified fears that a double-dip has already begun, as many major benchmarks endured their worst single-session slide since April. Despite a qualified endorsement of Greece’s budget plan from the European Commission, worries of a meltdown in European credit markets sparked a global sell-off. Elsewhere, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed charges against Bank of America and the retail sector reported impressive January results.
The ETFdb 60 Index dropped 21.14 points, or 2.1% for the session, recording its worst single-day percentage loss since its inception. Almost half of the index components lost at least 3% on the day, including every equity ETF. Bond indexes mostly gained on the day, perhaps the only silver lining in the bloodbath. The VIX shot up more than 20%, and the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) added more than 11%.
Thursday’s worst performance came from the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (EWZ), which shed 6%. The losses came despite an indication from central bankers that they may wait until April to begin raising interest rates. The board had unanimously voted last week to leave the overnight rate unchanged at 8.75%. Signs of upticks in inflation have put pressure on policy makers to raise rates. Not all news out of Brazil was bad: automobile output jumped more than 30% in January from a year earlier, the result of government-sponsored incentives to drive domestic demand. Revenue from car exports jumped 66% from the same period in 2009.
The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) continued its freefall on Thursday, declining 5.5% following a “double whammy” of sliding gold prices and declines in equity markets. Gold dropped by about 4% as concerns about potential debt crises in Europe sent the dollar higher. The cost to insure debt from Portugal and Spain soared as investors saw an increased likelihood of Greece’s woes spreading throughout the euro area. The Portugese government sold only about 60% of its indicative offer in a treasury auction Wednesday.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.