The tech-heavy Nasdaq hit its highest close in 18 months on Friday, as stocks were buoyed by a jobs report that kept unemployment flat at 9.6%. Thanks to the jobs report and renewed confidence in an economic recovery, the price of oil soared, finishing near $81.50 a barrel, within striking distance of its 2010 high. Meanwhile, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao gave a speech to the National People’s Congress in which he detailed Chinese budget plans and a proposal to hike spending by 11% this year, which helped to send most Chinese ETFs higher.
The ETFdb 60 Index climbed 10.26 points, or 1.0%, to finish at 1,040.84. Winners outnumbered losers by nearly five-to-one as the ETFdb 60 climbed back into positive territory on the year. The index has gained in four of its last five sessions, and finished up more than 2% on the week.
The biggest gainer in the ETFdb 60 was Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ), which posted a gain of 2.7%. The big news out of the real estate sector was that General Growth Properties has returned to trading on the NYSE, despite going through the bankruptcy process. The company was also granted a nearly five-month extension period to file a plan of reorganization to exit bankruptcy. Shares of the firm were up more than 2% and may have helped to buoy confidence in the REIT sector.
Another big winner was Vanguard European ETF (VGK) which also finished the day up 2.7%. This came after news that the “Greek Problem” may be subsiding due to deep cuts in the Greek budget in a third austerity round. The 4.8-billion-euro package was enough to allow Athens to raise an urgently needed 5 billion euros through a bond issue on Thursday, albeit at an interest rate of more than 6%. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made some positive comments regarding the Greek situation that undoubedtly helped to send euro zone shares higher. ‘‘Greece has not asked for financial assistance. The stability of the euro zone is assured today. As a result, the question (of aid to Greece) is not being asked … I am even optimistic that it will not be asked,’’ Ms. Merkel said on Friday.
Disclosure: no positions at time of writing.