After rallying throughout the earlier hours, U.S. equities drifted off session highs following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony for Congress. Bernanke emphasized, “our asset purchases depend on economic and financial developments, but they are by no means on a preset course”. The chairman also noted that while the bond buying program could be reduced somewhat more quickly if economic conditions improve, the central bank could still maintain its $85 billion monthly pace for longer if labor market conditions worsen. In other economic news, housing starts tumbled 9.9% in June to the lowest level since last August [see The Cheapest ETF for Every Investment Objective].
Following Bernanke’s commentary, all three major U.S. equity indexes managed to close in positive territory. The S&P 500 ETF (SPY, A) traded 0.27% higher, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq ETF (QQQ, A) rose 0.28% – both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished lower for the first time in nine sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA, A-) inched 0.10% higher.
In Europe, markets were broadly higher; the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.6%. Meanwhile, China’s Shanghai Composite shed 1.0%, and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.1%, marking its fourth straight gain.
Bond ETF Roundup
U.S. Treasuries rallied today after Bernanke emphasized that there is no “preset course” for the Fed’s bond-buying program. Yields on 10-year notes fell 5 basis points, while 30-year bonds and 5-year note yields fell 2 and 7 basis points, respectively [see also Seven Simple & Cheap ETF Model Portfolios].
Crude oil futures traded higher today, settling above $106 a barrel, after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a 6.9 million barrel fall in crude stockpiles for the week ended July 12. In other energy trading, gasoline futures fell slightly after the EIA reported supplies rising by 3.1 million barrels. Meanwhile, gold futures traded lower on Bernanke’s testimony, settling at $1,277.90 an ounce.
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: (FDN)
The DJ Internet Index Fund (FDN, B+) was one of the best performers today, gaining 1.46% during the session. After Yahoo (YHOO) reported earnings that topped expectations, this ETF surged during the morning hours. FDN traded higher throughout the day, eventually settling at $49.50 a share [see High Tech ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: (IHI)
The U.S. Medical Devices ETF (IHI, C+) also posted a strong performance today, gaining 0.90% during the session. After St Jude Medical, Inc (STJ) reported better-than-expected earnings, this ETF gapped significantly higher at the open. IHI eventually settled at $81.51 a share [see Baby Boomers ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
The best-performing retirement strategy over the trailing 1-week period has been the Aggressive Portfolio, which has gained 2.34%.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.