The release of the Fed’s Beige Book today left investors even more leery ahead of Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech on Friday. In the minutes from the last FOMC meeting, the Fed had given the markets yet another strong signal that it is preparing to take action to boost the nation’s lackluster recovery, but had emphasized that further measures would not be taken if the economy was back on track for a substantial and sustainable recovery. And with the indications made in today’s Beige Book, many are concerned that these “stipulations” the Fed has put on will leave many investors disappointed with Bernanke’s speech at Jackson Hole.
According to the Beige book, the economy continued to show improvement in July and early August, but cited that manufacturing activity was weaker across the country. In line with the Fed’s assessment, a revision of the U.S.’s second quarter GDP also came in better than expected, showing an economic expansion of 1.7%. Despite multiple signs painting a much brighter picture for the economy, trading was muted as investors continued to remain cautious [find ETFs for every investment objective with the ETF Screener].
All three major indexes managed to eke out modest gains on the day, with tech-heavy Nasdaq (QQQ) logging its fourth-straight session higher. The S&P 500 (SPY) gained a mere 0.08%, led by a strong performance of telecom stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) finally landed in positive territory after logging losses in the last two sessions. European markets pared early losses to finish the session slightly lower as ECB President Draghi’s comments boosted hopes that the central bank will act to stabilize borrowing costs of the region’s debt-ridden economies. In Asia, equities were mixed with China’s Shanghai composite falling 1% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closing 0.4% higher.
Bond ETF Roundup
Today’s upbeat economic data from the Fed’s Beige Book and the Commerce Department weighed heavily on U.S. Treasuries. As the better than expected reports kept investors doubting the prospects of further stimulus, demand for safe haven investments dwindled, forcing Treasury prices to fall. Meanwhile, interest in junk bonds (JNK) ticked higher as investors shifted their assets to riskier corners of the market.
Commodity ETF Roundup
Commodities were mixed across the board today as upbeat economic data and Hurricane Isaac took over the headlines. Precious metals took a hit as investors pulled away from the safe haven investments. Despite Isaac’s forcing some Gulf Coast rigs to temporarily close, oil futures fell after a government report indicated that inventories of crude rose last week for the first time in a month. Natural gas futures however, traded higher on fears of Isaac’s potential damage to the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, agricultural commodities rose despite crops receiving some much needed rain from Hurricane Isaac.
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: UGAZ
The VelocityShares 3x Long Natural Gas ETN (UGAZ) was one of the best performers, gaining a whopping 6.35% on the day. As Hurricane Isaac pummeled the Gulf Coast, natural gas prices rose, forcing this leveraged ETN to gap slightly higher at the open. UGAZ continued it climb upward, eventually settling below its high of $21.77 a share [see also 17 ETFs For Day Traders].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: IYZ
The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Index Fund (IYZ) had a relatively strong performance today, gaining 0.71% during the session. As Verizon stock, which accounts for over 15% of IYZ’s total assets, led telecom shares higher, this ETF pushed higher throughout the day, only to slide sideways during that final hours of trading. IYZ eventually settled below its high of $24.29 a share [see also High Tech ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
The State Street SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) was the first ever exchange-traded fund and since inception in 1993 it has gained an annualized return of slightly over 8.1%
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.