Major indexes barely stayed in the green on Wednesday, as conflicting economic reports kept the market in a seesaw pattern for most of the day. The S&P 500 finished ahead by five points while oil closed just under $82/ bbl. The Commerce Department said that wholesale inventories fell 0.2% in January after dropping 1% in December. Companies’ sales rose 1.3%, the tenth straight gain. The drop in inventories and the rise in sales suggests that companies may soon have to begin restocking. However, news was not as good on the employment front with the government reporting that unemployment rose in 30 states in January and that five states are currently at record levels of unemployment.
The ETFdb 60 added 2.49 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1,043.93. The ETFdb 60 is now up 1% on the year.
One of the biggest winners on the day was the Financials Select Sector SPDR (XLF), which finished up 1.1% in Wednesday trading. This gain came after continued momentum from yesterday’s trading, as well as short covering across the financial sector. Financials have rallied in recent weeks as concerns about the impact of any regulatory changes has eased. In addition, many financial securities, such as Citigroup and AIG, have seen huge increases in call option volume suggesting that investors and traders are very bullish on the short term prospects of these two companies.
One of the biggest losers on the day was the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which continued its recent slide by losing 1.4%. Most of the loss was attributed to technical reasons by several analysts who viewed today’s gold drop as overdone. However, other analysts believe that the market is still abuzz over comments from China yesterday. China’s chief foreign-exchange regulator said that the country’s future purchases would be limited by factors such as the relatively small size of the gold market and price impact of such an action. These negative comments, along with a stronger dollar, helped to weigh down gold and gold miners in Wednesday trading.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.