Equity markets sunk to start the last week of February, with most indexes finishing down more than 1%. This came after a sharp decline in consumer confidence, as the widely-followed index fell to 46 from a reading of 56.5 in January. A reading of 55 was expected, indicating that the data release was a major setback for investors hoping for consumer spending to sustain the rally. In more positive news for consumers, oil prices dropped almost 2% and the Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.3%.
The ETFdb 60 Index, a benchmark measuring the performance of asset classes available through ETFs, finished the day down 8.74 points, or 0.9%. The ETFdb 60 Index is now down 0.9% for the year.
The biggest loser in the ETFdb 60 was the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which lost 3.6% on the day. The loss was largely due to a stronger dollar which sent gold down more than $9.90 to roughly $1,103 an ounce. The dollar has ripped off a mini-rally in recent sessions, with the dollar index closing in on 81, a new eight-month high for the dollar against a trade-weighted basket of six currencies. Since gold is viewed by many as an alternative to the greenback, bullion prices tend to move in opposite directions.
The biggest gainer in the ETFdb 60 was the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX), which finished the day up 1.7%. This came after markets reversed last week’s surge as investors began to wonder if debt concerns in Greece and lackluster growth prospects from consumers would put the breaks on any hope of a spring rally in equity markets.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.