After two days of posting declines, selling pressures finally cooled off on Wall Street as the fourth quarter’s earnings season got off to a relatively good start. Late last night, aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) reported that revenue was well above expectations and predicts aluminum demand growth to rise in 2013. Earnings reports from the bellwethers are often considered to be crucial indicators for the global economy. Though investors still remain cautious about the upcoming slew of earnings reports, analysts predict that the lowered expectations found among investors leaves room for companies to post positive surprises, even if results do not meet last year’s double-digit figures [see also Seven Simple & Cheap ETF Model Portfolios].
Following good earnings report from Alcoa, all three major U.S. equity indexes managed to inch their way into positive territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA, A-) posted the largest gain, rising 0.49%. The S&P 500 (SPY, A) ticked 0.25%, while tech-heavy Nasdaq (QQQ, B+) gained a modest 0.38%. In Europe, markets were mostly higher with the Stoxx Europe 600 gaining 0.7% to its highest level in nearly two years. Asian equities were also higher; on a weaker yen, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average inched 0.7% higher. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 posted a modest 0.4% rise.
Bond ETF Roundup
U.S. Treasury prices rose for a third day today, forcing yields to their highest level in months. This followed worse-than-expected demand at a 10-year note government auction, which bond traders seemingly shrugged off. The junk bond space saw higher levels of activity today as companies continued to flood the market with new debt to start the year.
Commodities were narrowly mixed once again today, with natural gas and platinum being the biggest movers. Crude oil settled slightly lower after a report indicated the U.S. oil inventories and production rose. And after showing a promising uptick yesterday, gold futures lost traction, ending slightly lower.
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: (XLV)
The State Street Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV, A) was one of the best performers today, gaining 1.10% during the session. Healthcare stocks, including UnitedHealth (UNH) and Pfizer (PFE), surged today, forcing this ETF to gap higher at the open. XLV surged during the morning hours, eventually settling at its high of $41.49 a share [see Baby Boomers ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: (YCS)
The ProShares UltraShort Yen ETF (YCS, A) also performed well today, gaining 1.62% during the session. As the Japanese yen continued its decline, this leveraged and inverse ETF gapped significantly higher at the open. YCS slid sideways for the remainder of the day, eventually settling near its high of $52.19 a share [see Asia-Centric ETFdb Portfolio].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
The best-performing regional strategy over the trailing four week period has been the BRIC-or-Bust ETFdb Portfolio, which has gained nearly 4.4%.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.