Markets seesawed throughout the day on Thursday, as investors digested multiple reports indicating that job creation in the U.S. may be picking up. Despite a good report from ADP, investors traded cautiously ahead of a key report due out Friday morning. Commodity prices once again faced pressure from a strengthening dollar–the euro traded below $1.22–although an unexpected drop in oil inventories helped to hold crude prices steady. Overseas, the Israel government was reportedly considering changes to its policy towards the Gaza Strip as international scrutiny has intensified.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through exchange-traded products, climbed higher by 1.32 points, or 0.1%, thanks to modest gains from most equity indexes on the day.
Among the biggest losers on the day was the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper ETN (JJC), which dropped 3.4%. Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. and Codelco, the world’s two largest copper producers, said China’s plans to reel it its surging economy may weigh on demand for the metal in coming months. Those fears extended a slide in copper prices, which had already declined by 15% over the prior two months. Chinese officials are planning to cut back stimulus measures enacted in recent years, including a reduction in new loans.
The big winner on the day was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which surged 6.1% after the Energy Information Administration’s weekly report indicated that U.S. gas inventories expanded by 88 billion cubic feet for the week ended May 28. Analysts had been expecting a significantly larger increase (in the range of 90 to 94 billion feet), so the news sent gas prices sharply higher.
Natural gas prices now stand at a three month high, thanks in large part to indications that industrial activity within the U.S. is finally picking up (see UNG’s Stellar May: Proof Of A U.S. Recovery).
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.