Investors struggled to keep up with a rash of developments around the globe on Thursday, with a turn for the worse in Greece and a potentially major move from Beijing drawing attention. Concerns over a potential liquidity shortage at Greece’s private sector banks led to a selloff of Greek stocks and bonds, while China reportedly prepared to let its currency appreciate slightly against the dollar. Elsewhere, a jump in jobless claims last week caused some anxiety, but most benchmarks still finished up on the day.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through exchange-traded products, added 1.0 points, or 0.1%. The ETFdb 60 is now up 2.6% on the year.
Among the biggest winners was the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (EWZ), which added 1.2% on the day. Brazilian banks rushed to issue bonds to take advantage of strong demand for emerging markets debt, while automaker Ford announced that it would increase investment in Brazil over the next five years by $281 million, betting on a rise in demand for small SUVs. Itau Unibanco said on Thursday that a rally in Brazilian equities will be delayed until the second half of the year due to upcoming elections and the prospect of rising rates.
For the second consecutive day, the biggest loser n the ETFdb 60 was the Unites States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which slipped 2.2%. As shown below, natural gas prices dropped sharply after the government released its weekly natural gas inventories report. The EIA data revealed that stockpiles expanded by 31 billion cubic feet for the week ended April 2, beating analyst estimates. Inventories are now 12% above the five year average, up from the 11% surplus last week. Big movements following the weekly report are nothing new for UNG; the fund’s median swing on Thursdays exceeds 2% (see Thursdays with UNG)
UNG is now down about 30% in 2010 and more than 50% over the last 52 weeks.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.