Wall Street was in for a volatile trading session, as ongoing concerns over the looming fiscal cliff overshadowed a slew of positive economic reports. Stocks made some headway this morning after orders of durable goods came in better than expected in October. Meanwhile, the S&P Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 3% from the year prior and consumer confidence for November jumped to its highest level since 2008. But following Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s disappointing statement that there has been “little progress” made in budget talks, equities quickly took a leg lower in a steep sell-off [see also 101 ETF Lessons Every Financial Advisor Should Learn].
Global Market Overview: Slow Budget Talks Spark Volatile Trading
As fiscal cliff fears escalated, all three major U.S. equity indexes slipped into negative territory during the final hours of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) took the biggest hit, dropping 0.69%. The S&P 500 (SPY) slipped 0.52%, while tech-heavy Nasdaq (QQQ) fell a mere 0.3%. In Europe, markets closed higher after euro zone finance ministers finally reached an agreement on reducing Greece’s debt. Asian equities also closed mostly higher, with Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average inching 0.4% higher. China’s Shanghai Composite, however, slid 1.3% after a batch of sour corporate earnings.
Bond ETF Roundup
A better-than-expected government bond auction helped boost U.S. Treasury prices higher today. However, continuing fears over Congress not being able to come to a viable fiscal cliff solution is still keeping bond traders cautious. In the corporate arena, the SPDR High Yield Bond ETF (JNK, A) managed to deliver modest gains.
Commodity ETF Roundup
Commodities were mostly mixed following today’s economic reports, with prices for corn, soybeans, gasoline, and natural gas rising, while gold, silver, and oil prices slid slightly lower. Wheat prices, however, surged after a lack of rain has left the winter crop in the worst condition in over a quarter of a century [see also 3 Metals Outshining Gold].
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: GDX
The Van Eck Market Vectors TR Gold Miners ETF (GDX, B+) was one of the worst performers today, shedding an abysmal 2.65% during the session. Although gold prices rose, investors quickly shifted out of riskier asset classes following Reid’s comments, sending this ETF into a steep tumble. GDX settled at its low of $47.46 as trading volumes peaked during the last few minutes of trading [see also GLD-Free Gold Bug ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: JJG
The Barclays iPath DJ-UBS Grains Total Return Sub-Index ETN (JJG, B+) was one of the best performers, gaining 2.06% during the session. As wheat prices surged alongside a slight uptick in corn and soybeans, this ETF gapped significantly higher at the open, only to surge higher throughout the day. JJG eventually settled near its high of $57.52 a share [see also The Surging Demographic Trends Behind Grain Investing].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
Year-to-date, the best performing non-leveraged ETF is the SPDR Homebuilders ETF (XHB, A+), which has gained a whopping 55.49% so far in 2012.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.