A slew of sour economic data bombarded the markets today, yet equities maintained their ground, bolstered once again by better than expected earnings. Technology stocks led the way today as several bellwether companies reported strong second quarter profits. For the most part, investors have been pleasantly surprised this earnings season, with many stocks beating analysts’ expectations. Despite today’s less than cheery economic news, markets showed their resilience: the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched 0.3% higher, while the S&P 500 managed a 0.2% uptick, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was today’s leader with its 0.8% gain [see also Seven Simple & Cheap ETF Model Portfolio].
On the corporate earnings front, tech giant IBM posted a jump in profits, while Morgan Stanley missed forecasts, reporting lower profits amid weakness in the company’s institutions securities business. In macroeconomic news, the Labor Department reported an increase of 386,000 in jobless claims last week, further evidence of the fragile state of the labor market. The number of U.S. existing home sales dropped last month to 4.27 million, the lowest level seen in eight months. Lastly, the Philly Fed announced that factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region contracted in the month of July [see also Poland ETFs: A Bright Spot In A Gloomy Region].
The iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI) was one of the best performers today, gaining 2.24% during the session. Alongside the broad rise in Asian equities today, this ETF gapped higher at the open, only to inch higher throughout the day. FXI settled just below its high of $33.83 a share [see also Asia-Centric ETFdb Portfolio].
The Barclays iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) was one of the worst performers, shedding 2.33% on the day. Strong earnings reports overshadowed poor economic data today, helping market volatility to cool off. After an early morning rally, this ETF started heading south, inching lower throughout the day [see also Why Buffett Is Dead Wrong On Gold].
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.