Despite a flurry of earnings reports, data releases, and profit forecasts, Wednesday was a quiet day on Wall Street, and most markets finished little changed on the day. Less than 24 hours after President Obama used an Oval Office address to pledge to make BP pay for cleanup costs, the beleaguered British oil giant announced that it would suspend its dividend and create a $20 billion fund to be administered by the current “pay czar.” Elsewhere, mixed company-specific announcements gave markets little direction; Apple and AT&T cited record iPhone sales and overwhelming pre-order demand, while FedEx and Nokia cut their outlooks.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, closed down 1.44 points, or 0.1%, in light trading. Winners and losers were almost even on the day, with most equity components finishing slightly in the red.
The biggest loser was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) which saw an abrupt halt to a recent rally by losing almost 4% on the day. UNG’s slide came after Obama spoke of the need to develop windmills and solar energy and dial up use of energy efficient windows, but made no mention of clean burning natural gas in his address last night.
Gas traders were taking profits after a rally pushed prices to their highest level since February. Expectations that tomorrows Energy Information Storage report will show a significant increase in gas inventories also weighed on prices; analysts are predicting an addition to 90 billion cubic feet to storage for the week ended June 11.
The biggest winner of the day was the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which followed up a disappointing Tuesday session by adding almost 1.0%. GDX’s jump came despite a slide in gold prices (GLD finished 0.6% lower), a relative rarity for a fund that consists of global companies that derive revenues from mining of precious metals.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.