U.S. stock markets ended narrowly mixed today, as many investors continued to position themselves for several bellwether’s fourth quarter earnings reports slated to come out later this week. In economic news, U.S. retail sales came in better-than expected for December; the month saw a 0.5% increase in sales, compared to the forecasted 0.2% increase. New York-area factory activity contracted at a faster pace than economists had predicted, while U.S. wholesale prices slipped in December due to lower food and energy costs. U.S. business inventories, however, expanded in November in line with expectations. Meanwhile, traders remained cautious ahead of earnings reports due tomorrow from Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan (JPM), and Ebay (EBAY) [see also Seven Simple & Cheap ETF Model Portfolios].
As investors digested a slew of economic reports, only two major U.S. equity indexes managed to close in positive territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA, B) reversed earlier losses on the day to end 0.14% higher, while the S&P 500 (SPY, A) gained 0.07% to end at 1,472.34, its five-year high. Tech-heavy Nasdaq (QQQ, A-), however, fell 0.49%, dragged down by Apple (AAPL) shares. In Europe, markets were mostly lower with the Stoxx Europe 600 falling less than 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average logged in a 0.7% gain after hitting its 32- month high. China’s Shanghai Composite Index ticked 0.60% higher.
Bond ETF Roundup
As bond traders remained wary about the coming fiscal talks in Washington, U.S. Treasury prices rose today, pushing long-term yields to their lowest levels of the year. Yields on 5 and 10-year notes fell 3 basis points, while 30-year bond yields slid 1 basis point.
Commodities were mixed across the board today, as traders kept their focus on U.S. debt woes. Crude oil futures were bolstered by a weaker dollar, though uncertainty surrounding the U.S. debt ceiling limited gains. Gold and silver prices rallied today, while platinum futures hit three month highs after rallying for a sixth straight session.
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: (XRT)
The State Street SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT, A-) was one of the best performers today, gaining 2.09% during the session. Following a better-than-expected report on U.S. retail sales for the month of December, this ETF skyrocketed. XRT continued to climb throughout the day, eventually settling at $64.54 a share [see Consumer Centric ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: (EWG)
The iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (EWG, A-) was one of the worst performers today, shedding 1.15% during the session. German GDP data released today showed weaker than expected gains, as growth for 2012 came in at 0.7% versus the expected 0.8% increase. As a result, this ETF gapped significantly lower at the open, only to trade sideways for the remainder of the day. EWG eventually settled at $24.92 a share [see Global Titans ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
The best-performing themed strategy over the trailing one week period has been the Mining Boom ETFdb Portfolio, which has gained nearly 4.12%.
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