With no major economic news, markets straddled the flat line for most of the day as trading volumes sunk to rather anemic levels. For the most part, investors have been treading lightly the last few days as they await Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech later this week at the annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Many will be looking ahead for hints of further stimulus measures, but the “conditions” the central bank stipulated last week have left many investors understandably doubtful about the prospect of more aggressive action. In line with investors’ sentiment, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans was quoted today saying “I don’t think we should be in a mode where we are waiting to see what the next few data releases bring. We are well past the threshold for additional action; we should take that action now.” Until central bankers commit themselves to a concrete plan, markets will likely continue to trade thinly and aimlessly [see also ETF Insider: Bulls Look To Data Before Resuming Rally].
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) and S&P 500 (SPY) narrowly ended in negative territory as utilities and technology equities gained and material stocks slipped. Tech-heavy Nasdaq (QQQ) however, managed to eke out a small gain on the day. Although UK markets were closed today on holiday, Europe equities edged slightly higher as a sharp gain in mobile-phone giant Nokia offset some disappointing German data; Germany’s IFO Index of business sentiment came in lightly lower than expected. In Asia, markets were mixed with China’s Shanghai Composite falling 1.7% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average rising 0.2%.
Bond ETF Roundup
U.S. Treasury prices rose today, pushing yields down to their two-week low. Investors focused today on placing their bets on the Federal Reserve providing more stimulus, particularly on another bond-buying program.
Commodity ETF Roundup
Tropical Storm Isaac took over commodity headlines today as many investors remained on edge as the storm continued its path towards the U.S. Gulf Coast. As traders weighed the impact of the storm on the energy sector, gasoline futures surged to a five-month high, while oil fell slightly and natural gas tumbled lower.
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: IYW
Apple shares climbed today to an all-time high after the company won a patent battle with South Korean rival Samsung, which ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. The win helped the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Index Fund (IYW), which allocates over 23% of its assets to Apple stock, eke out a small 0.05% gain during today’s rocky session [see also High Tech ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: NIB
The Barclays iPath Dow Jones-UBS Cocoa Total Return Sub-Index ETN (NIB) was one of the best performers, gaining an incredible 3.14% on the day. Cocoa futures soared today to 9-month highs as dry weather and sporadic violence in the top-producer Ivory Coast pushed prices skyward. In response, NIB gapped significantly higher at the open, only to slide sideways throughout the day. NIB settled below its high of $33.99 a share [see also The Five Minute Guide To Cocoa ETFs].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.