While the fallout from the massive earthquake in Haiti dominated the headlines on Wednesday, there was plenty of action on Wall Street as well for investors to digest. Heads of major financial institutions testified before Congress, admitting mistakes that caused and exacerbated the financial crisis while defending the pay policies that have sparked outrage across the country. Google’s threat to pull out of China hurt local markets, while a positive report from the Fed’s beige book gave domestic markets a boost.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through exchange-traded products, added 6.00 points, or 0.6%, to close at 1,053.57.
The day’s biggest gainer was the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Total Return ETN (JJC), which jumped 3.2% for the day. Copper rebounded from two week lows following an unexpected overture towards monetary tightening from China on Tuesday. This move was interpreted to represent strong growth prospects for copper from the world’s top consumer of the material. Copper prices rallied throughout 2008 as emerging markets resumed growth and developed economies showed signs of a recovery as well. JJC has more than doubled since the start of lat year.
Also gaining ground on Wednesday was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which added 2.6% on expectations that last week’s frigid weather will result in a major drawdown of inventories. The government is set to release the latest round of natural gas storage data on Thursday. Also on Wednesday, former White House chief of staff John Podesta and billionaire financier T. Boone Pickens held a joint press briefing to discuss legislation that would provide tax breaks for fleets of heavy trucks that switch from diesel fuel to natural gas. Both have been active in their support of natural gas as a key to lessening dependence on foreign oil.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.