Equity markets soared into green territory as investors rejoiced over encouraging economic data on Wall Street, while developments in the Euro zone also helped to ease lingering uncertainties stemming from Greece. On the home front, the Nasdaq led the way higher, gaining an impressive 1.51% on the day, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged behind, inching higher by o.96%. Crude oil rallied alongside stocks today and futures contracts for the fossil fuel settled near $102.50 a barrel as the trading session drew to a close [see also India ETFs Catch Fire in 2012].
Encouraging economic reports at home stole the spotlight today; only 348,000 people filed for unemployment benefits, a modest improvement versus the previous reading of 361,000. Housing market data was also positive; there were 699,000 new housing starts in January, versus 689,000 from the previous month. The Philly Fed index also surprised to the upside, coming in at 10.2, blowing past the expected 9.5 as well as last month’s reading of 7.3 [see Fund Managers Turn Bullish As "Risk Appetite" Increases].
The Van Eck Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) was one of the strongest performers, gaining 2.60% on the day, bolstered by buying euphoria across equity markets coupled with a rally in gold spot prices. Equities rose higher across the board and gold miners took the lead after having grossly under-performed over the past few weeks [see Why Buffet Hates Gold]. Gold prices rallied all the way to $1,730 an ounce throughout the day after touching a low-point at $1,706 an ounce before Wall Street’s opening bell. GDX is up close to 7% year-to-date [see GDX Returns].
The Barclays iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) was one of the weakest performers, shedding 3.85% on the day. Uncertainty evaporated from the markets as encouraging economic data stole the spotlight from linger Euro zone debt woes. Debt drama overseas cooled off after it was reported that the European Central Bank would swap its Greek bonds for newly issued ones that are likely further out in maturity in an effort to give the debt-burdened nation some breathing room so to speak.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.