After the best performance since early 2009, markets finished today relatively flat as no major data or news had an effect on stocks. Both the Dow and S&P dipped by about 0.20% while the NASDAQ jumped by that same amount. Gold suffered by just $1/oz. while oil saw slight losses but was able to hold on to its $100/barrel benchmark. With not much news on the day, most investors are already looking ahead to find the next big market mover, and Friday is shaping up to be an important session [see also As Bill Miller Departs, Some Value ETF Alternatives].
Though the euro-zone has been the focus of equities as of late, tomorrow will see important data in the form of the U.S. unemployment for November. Last month saw employment fall to 9%, and that figure is expected to hold in tomorrow’s report. If the data misses, look for markets to endure a rough day, as it will surely bring about accusations that the economy is still not recovering. However, if we meet our marks or surpass them, we could be in for a third big trading day on the week, as investors have already been treated to strong markets on Monday and Wednesday. For those interested in today’s biggest movers, we outline two of the most notable ETF performances on the day [see also Euro Bond ETFs: Big Yields, Big Risks].
One of the biggest ETF winners was one of the worst performers yesterday. The United States Natural Gas Fund LP (UNG) was able to post gains of 1.9% on some surprising data from the EIA. Each Thursday, data on natural gas inventories is released and it typically marks a big trading day for securities tracking the underlying commodity. Yesterday saw UNG dip on speculation that inventories were set to rise 10 billion cubic feet, but today’s report actually saw stockpiles drop by about one billion cubic feet. “The report offered the first decline in natural gas inventories since April after milder-than-normal temperatures across much of the U.S. in recent weeks delayed the typical autumn runup in gas-fired heating demand” writes the Wall Street Journal [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].
One of the biggest ETF losers on the day came from the MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ). On top of its rough 2011, today saw this ETF dip by about 1.4%. The losses came after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered a new spending package by mid-December to keep the economy afloat. While the intervention may point to strong efforts to boost a sputtering economy, many are worried about the implications that increased spending will have. Japan is already staring at a large amount of public debt and after watching so many nations in Europe struggle, many are fearful that increased spending may be making things worse instead of better [see also Back To Basics: 7 ETFs For Long-Term Investors].
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.