Wall Street’s focus was on jobs on Friday, as investors digested an employment rate that showed an unexpected decline in the unemployment rate but also revealed that more jobs were lost last month than anticipated. Markets showed significant volatility throughout the day, but a late rally pushed most equity major benchmarks into the black for the final trading day of the week. Elsewhere, big banks made announcements of executive compensation that are likely to bring on another wave of public criticism and scrutiny on Capitol Hill.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, inched up 0.18 points to close at 991.95. Volume for index components was nearly 1.8 billion shares, the most active trading day of the year.
The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) gained 5.4% on the day, but failed to claw back all the losses from the previous session’s bloodbath. Gold prices closed slightly up, accounting for some of GDX’s big gain, but the majority of the rise was seemingly attributable to bargain hunters looking for funds that had been battered in the recent pullback.
Losing ground on Friday was the iShares MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index Fund (SCZ), which lost 1.7% as concerns over a potential crisis in the euro zone continued to weigh on international markets. Costs of insuring Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish debt have skyrocketed in recent days as investors lose faith in the ability of debt-laden governments to rectify deteriorating public finances.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.