Broad U.S. equity markets finished out the week flat as new U.S. economic data came in short of expectations. The nation’s GDP rose to 2.8% in the last three months of 2011, falling short of the expected 3% increase, leading many investors to think twice about the economy’s current condition and the status of its recovery. Euro debt drama also continued this week as another slew of downgrades from Fitch Ratings cut the sovereign deb ratings of Italy, Spain, Belgium, Cyprus, and Slovenia. Although the currency markets reacted to the announcement, the volatility was short lived because Fitch’s cuts were not as severe as Standard & Poor’s downgrades two weeks ago. In the commodities space, gold futures for February delivery rose for a weekly gain of over 4% as downward pressure on the U.S. dollar pushed investors into the tried and true safe haven.
After a slow stretch, the ETF industry picked up the pace with 8 new launches this week. iShares heated up the competition and proved to be a heavy hitter in the industry with its debut of 7 new products, including two new first to market funds: a Denmark and Finland ETF [see Industry Firsts: Denmark ETF (EDEN), Finland ETF (EFNL) Debut].
Below, we outline three of the best ETF stories from around the web this past week:
Four Paths To Real Estate Profits With ETFs at Money and Markets:
For many investors, the effects of 2008′s U.S. housing crisis can still be felt today, and some even argue that the housing market has not truly bottomed yet. For investors who are bearish on the housing sector, there are a number of ways you can chose to play the market. In this article, author Ron Rowland, outlines four paths to potential real estate profits with ETFs.
Why I’m Bullish This Materials Select Sector ETF at ETF Daily News:
For the most part, basic materials is a sector that is needed for virtually any job. With the recent surge in the homebuilders, investors have seen a number of basic materials rally in response. Quite often, basic materials is the first sector to strengthen if the economy is showing signs of recovery. This article, by David Gillie, explains why investors should be bullish on SPDR’s Materials Select Sector ETF, XLB.
Five Compelling Long Term Trends (And ETFs To Play Them) at ETF Database:
Originally, ETFs were designed for long-term, buy-and-hold investors; but with the industry’s rapid development, ETFs are now widely used by day traders who measure their holding periods in minutes rather than years. In this article, author Michael Johnston outlines five compelling long-term trends with ETF options to play them for the more traditional ETF investors.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.