Despite continued tension in the Middle East, American equities managed to finish the day flat thanks to strong earnings reports and sliding oil prices. The Dow declined by 37 points while the S&P 500 fell by a single point, however, the Nasdaq managed to post a decent gain on the day, rising by just under 0.6%. Commodity markets suffered more severe losses on the day as worries over the revolt in North Africa spreading to Saudi Arabia declined sending gold down by 1.2% and oil plunging by 2.3%. Most other commodities followed the lead of these two headliners as grains and softs fell across the board with especially rough losses coming in the silver (down 4.1%), and the cotton (down 3.9%) markets.
One of the biggest winners in the ETFdb 60 on the day was the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Fund (PBW) which climbed by 1.7% in Thursday trading. Today’s gains were likely due to a sustained increase in oil prices which is extremely good news for many of PBW’s top components. Investors also bought up a variety of names tied to the solar industry as well thanks to a robust report from Trina Solar, a top three component in PBW. The solar panel maker saw its 2010 net income skyrocket by 224% on a revenue increase of nearly 120% year-over-year. This sent shares of the company up by more than 5% on the day and, along with high oil prices, gave the sector a bullish undertone heading into Friday trading [see holdings of PBW here].
One of the biggest losers in the ETF world was the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) which slumped by 3.1% on the day. Today’s losses were largely the result of gold coming back down from its highs and this move’s impact on gold miners which are often considered to be a leveraged play on the price of the yellow metal. This sentiment hit Newmont Mining Corp especially hard, despite the company’s solid earnings report before the session began. The company, which makes up more than 10% of GDX, retreated by more than 7% in Thursday trading as the company reported a 46% increase in profit but forecast lower output for the year, news that compounded with lower gold prices to send GDX sharply lower on the day [see charts of GDX here].
Disclosure: Eric is long PBW.