Equities held onto gains throughout Thursday’s trading session despite a cornucopia of mixed economic data releases on the home front. The Nasdaq continued its rise into multi-year highs territory, gaining 0.74% on the day, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged behind, inching higher by only 0.22%. Gold prices bounced back slightly following yesterday’s brutal sell-off; futures prices for the precious yellow metal settled near $1,720 an ounce as the trading session drew to a close.
The worse-than-expected news included slight decreases in ISM manufacturing data and construction spending. Investors instead focused on the positives; jobless claims came in at 351,000 versus the previous figure of 353,000, while consumer spending increased by 0.2% versus last month’s flat reading. Crude oil prices rallied alongside bullish momentum on Wall Street; futures prices for the fossil fuel hit a multi-month high of $110.55 a barrel, settling just below the $109 level as the closing bell rang [see How To Invest Like UBS In 2012 With ETFs].
The PowerShares DB Base Metals Fund (DBB) was one of the strongest performers, gaining 1.66% on the day, bolstered by encouraging data from overseas despite the lackluster ISM results at home. Base metals prices increased as demand expectations strengthened after China PMI Manufacturing came in at 51 versus the expected 50.8, and also above last month’s reading of 50.5. The German Purchasing Manager Index also came in better-than-expected, helping to pave the way higher for industrial metals.
The United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was one of the worst performers, shedding 4.96% on the day, as discouraging supply data tipped fuel prices down the slope again. The latest weekly inventory report showed that natural gas stockpiles had decreased by 82 billion cubic feet, while traders and analysts had anticipated a 90-bcf decline. Natural gas prices have suffered from mild weather and growing inventory; UNG is down nearly 25% year-to-date [see Five Commodity MLPs With Sky High Yields].
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.