Investors had no shortage of news and developments to digest on Thursday. In New York, Obama slammed the financial industry and issued his strongest call yet for a regulatory overhaul. BP revealed that it was days away from announcing a “commercially attractive” oil discovery before a Transocean drilling rig caught fire and sank, while US Airways and United suspended merger talks. Overseas, sovereign Greek debt was downgraded while UK political leaders squared off in the second major debate.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through exchange-traded products, added 2.11 points, or 0.2%, to reach a new high for the second straight day. Trading was once again heavy, with aggregate volume of 945 million for the index components.
The United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) added 4% on the day after a government report showed that supplies increased by less than expected last week. The weekly Energy Information Administration data release showed that supplies added 73 billion cubic feet for the week ended April 16, below the 78 billion expected. That bucked the trend of recent weeks that has seen a premature end to the winter drawdown season and a surge in supplies. Natural gas futures contracts have now lost more than 25% this year, due to both growing supplies and expectations of bigger additions in the future (see How UNG Lost 20% In March). UNG is always a big mover on Thursday, as the release of the gas storage report generally causes a spike in trading .
One of the big losers on Thursday was the Vanguard European ETF (VGK), which slid 1.1% after Moody’s downgraded Greek debt and put the country’s sovereign ratings on review for possible further action. Separately, the European Union sparked a selloff in the euro currency and equities after announcing that its statistics agency said Greece’s deficit is worse than originally reported. Despite the relatively small size of the Greek economy, ongoing concerns over the country’s financial stability have weighed on European equities for much of 2010.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.