The second quarter got off to a good start on Thursday, as most equity markets headed higher on strong manufacturing data and signs that economies of the U.S., Europe, and China continue to show strength. Volume was surprisingly heavy ahead of a highly-anticipated government jobs report due out Friday morning. Expectations have soared, with investors expecting the first monthly gain in payrolls in more than two years. Elsewhere, weak earnings from Research in Motion held the technology sector in check, while commodity producers were among the biggest winners.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, added 8.06 points, or 0.8%, as a few big gainers pushed the benchmark higher. Five index components (UNG, GDX, FXI, EEM, and SCZ) added at least 2% on the day.
The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) added 4.5% on the day, and is now up almost 6% over the last two sessions. Gold prices surged once again, and GDX continued to trade as a leveraged play on spot bullion prices. Gold gained Thursday as uncertainty ahead of the Friday jobs report flared up.
Junk bonds were among the day’s big losers, as the iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond Fund (HYG) slid by about 1%. Word that companies issued $75.5 billion in high yield debt in the first three months of 2010, a quarterly record. March alone saw nearly $40 billion in new junk bonds. The jump reflected a 580% increase over the same period in 2009, a remarkable gain even considering the state of the market a year ago.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.