The tug of war between the bulls and bears continues on Wall Street as investors digested yet another plateful of mixed earnings results coupled with encouraging economic data. The Nasdaq remains at the front of the pack for the week, gaining 0.67% on the day, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged behind, clinching gains of 0.36%. Euphoria across equity markets created headwinds for the U.S. dollar for a third day in a row this week, which has helped beat down commodity prices to edge higher. Gold fell victim to choppy trading on Thursday, although bearish pressures tipped the precious metal lower and futures prices settled just below $1,660 an ounce [see also Earnings Spotlight: Freeport McMoRan (FCX)].
Financials led the way higher on the day, although fundamental developments in the sector were a mixed bag; investors were cheerful to see Bank Of America beat analyst estimates, although Morgan Stanley missed the mark [see Financials Free ETFdb Portfolio]. Jobless claims data also helped out the bulls as the weekly employment report showed 352,000 filings for unemployment, versus the projected 375,000. Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, commented, “A lot of the pessimism has been baked into the cake. We’re more likely to see positive surprises”.
The iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT) was one of the best performers, gaining 1.65% on the day, bolstered by positive economic data which continues to signal that the U.S. economic recovery is by all means chugging along slowly, but steadily [see also Five Juicy High Yield Bond ETFs For 2012]. The domestic transport sector rallied as investors were glad to see ongoing improvements in the labor market along with easing inflationary pressures; consumer prices in December stayed flat, versus the projected 0.1% increase.
The United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was one of the worst performers, sinking 6.16% on the day. Natural gas prices continued their decent in 2012 as abnormally warm weather across the U.S. has paved the way for rampant profit-taking [see also Energy Bull ETFdb Portfolio]. Futures prices for the fuel dropped 7% on the day and even bargain hunters were hesitant to step in at these attractively low levels. UNG has gotten absolutely hammered these past few trading sessions and this product is down 22% year-to-date.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.