Thursday saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average climb back into the black for 2010, as a recent rally has now erased February’s steep losses. A series of analyst upgrades gave markets a boost, although health care stocks continued to show weakness. Also on Thursday, retailers reported strong improvements in February sales. A week full of statistical releases will come to a climax on Friday morning when a highly-anticipated payrolls report–which is expected to show further reductions to non-farm jobs–is released.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, broke its four day winning streak on Thursday, sliding 1.21 points, or 0.1%. Volume for index components was light at just 558 million shares.
The United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) tumbled, losing 3.7% on the day. Natural gas prices fell to a three-month low after an Energy Department report indicated that inventories fell less than anticipated last week. Natural gas inventories now stand 1.2% above the five-year average level, up from 0.7% a week earlier.
UNG closed Thursday at $8.33 per share, its lowest level since the fund began trading in April 2007. UNG has now lost more than 17% on the year and 53% over the last 52 weeks.
The financial sector got a boost on Thursday from an improved outlook for banks, and the Financials Select Sector SPDR (XLF) finished 1% higher. XLF has been one of the best performing sector ETFs this year, up 3.7% in 2010.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.