Anticipation continued to build towards a major jobs announcement on Friday, as a report from ADP indicated that private sector jobs in the U.S. posted the smallest decline last month since March 2008. Elsewhere, news that democratic Senator Dodd will not seek re-election left an uncertain future for financial reform, and the drama between Cadbury and Kraft continued to heat up.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark designed to measure the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, added 2.87 points, or 0.3%, its third winning session of the week. The index is already up almost 2% on the year.
Leading the index higher on Wednesday was the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which added 4.9% and is now up more than 7% to date in 2010. Natural gas futures climbed above $6 per million British thermal units, as a continued cold snap across the country pushed up demand and ate into above average inventories. Temperatures between St. Louis and Dallas are expected to be as much as 20 degrees below average in coming days.
UNG will be in focus early on Thursday when the Energy Department releases the latest inventory data. Analysts expect stocks to decline by as much as 200 billion cubic feet, well above the average withdrawal of about 80 billion cubic feet at this time of the year.
As most major benchmarks posted modest gains on Wednesday, products linked to volatility benchmarks slumped. The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) lost 2.9% for the session, and is already down nearly 9% on the year. As signs of a sustainable recovery continue to emerge, investor confidence has jumped, and expectations for future volatility have declined.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.