Markets were able to finish the week out with mild gains as strong earnings from General Electric and McDonald’s gave a much needed push to equities. The Dow jumped by 65 points while the S&P 500 gained a meager 0.1% as a late day sell-off put early gains in check. All in all, this was another tough week for investors as markets seem to be falling into a horizontal trend, failing to establish meaningful momentum in either direction. We still have a few weeks left in earnings season, which has been generally positive to date, but afterwards will see a greater focus on euro zone woes as well as struggling U.S. data.
On the commodities side of things, softs dominated markets, as soybeans, cocoa, and coffee were among the best performing futures on the day. Gold was able to jump in early trading, but fell as markets came to a close, leading to a relatively flat day. Crude oil was up big in early trading, fell down a ways, but was then able to finish out the day up 1%, a nice gain for an asset that has also had trouble finding its path. Below, we outline two of the most significant ETF movers from Friday’s session to help keep investors informed on all of the recent happenings in the financial world [see also Three Reasons Why Gold Is Overvalued].
One of the biggest ETF winners on the day was the United States Natural Gas Fund LP (UNG), which jumped by just over 1% in a rare winning day for this fund. Natural gas bounced back today after selling off Thursday, though a number of indicators indicate that this move is simply a dead cat bounce. Low demand and weather forecasts are signaling for further losses in this commodity, which would batter UNG, a fund that has already lost almost 97% of its value since inception. For 2012 alone, this ETF has dipped by 44% [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].
One of the biggest ETF losers on the day came from the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX), which lost 3.3% during today’s session. VXX was down big as early trading led to generally positive equities, but as the day progressed a small sell-off ensued which is often correlated to a strong return for VXX. Here is where some investors get tripped up; sideways markets wreak havoc on the VIX and its underlying instruments, so VXX took a hit today despite equities falling for the latter half of the session. VXX is now down over 50% this year and more than 98% in the trailing three years [see also How The VIX ETN Lost 50% In 48 Hours].
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.