Wednesday saw a significant reduction to the growth seen in the first two days of February, as the health care sector weighed on major benchmarks. Major earnings reports were mixed, with Cisco beating estimates (after the bell) and Pfizer falling short. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke was sworn in to a second term, arguing in support of the central bank’s independence while promising to bring increased transparency to the organization as well.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, lost 5.45 points, or 0.5%, to close at 1,012.91. Only ten components of the index advanced, with none rising more than 0.6%. Of the day’s decliners, 14 slid by 1% or more.
Among the biggest losers on the day was the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper ETF (JJC), which slid 4.1% as worries about China’s moves to rein in growth sapped demand expectations. But with prices down significantly already on the year (JJC has slipped by more than 10% already), some analysts see a buying opportunity. Even if the Chinese government takes extreme measures, demand for copper is expected to remain strong, and a significant surplus is unlikely. Because China is the world’s largest copper consumer, prices for the metal are particularly sensitive to the outlook for demand from the world’s third-largest economy.
Gaining ground on Wednesday was the PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish (UUP), which added 0.6% as the greenback gained ground against both the euro and yen. After falling for much of 2009, the dollar has gained ground against its major rivals in 2010. Fresh concerns over public finances in Greece and a smaller-than-anticipated decline in U.S. jobs data drove the dollar higher on Wednesday.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.