As many investors feared, stocks pulled back sharply today, posting their first triple-digit drop and worst one-day performance this year. With bullish momentum undeniably being a dominant force on Wall Street since the new year, such a steep correction was perhaps expected as equities have had quite a run higher over the past month. In economic news, however, investors welcomed somewhat positive data from the Commerce Department, who reported orders for manufactured goods to have risen 1.8% in December, just shy of the 2.2% expectation. Meanwhile, a slew of stock-rating downgrades put selling pressures on trio of blue-chip heavyweights; Merck, (MRK), Wal-Mart (WMT), and Chevron (CVX) shares dropped after analysts cut stock recommendations [Be sure to check out the real estate news, trends, tips and tricks over at Dividend.com].
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA, A) logged in a 0.84% loss, with its underlying index dropping nearly 130 points. The S&P 500 ETF (SPY, A) sank 1.13%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq ETF (QQQ, A-) shed 1.74%. In Europe, markets were mostly lower after a scandal concerning Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and a criminal investigation into Italian banks using derivatives trading came to the forefront. Asian equities, however, were mostly higher after data showed China’s services sector expanding in January. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.4%, while Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average inched 0.6% higher.
Bond ETF Roundup
U.S. Treasury prices were higher today as stocks pulled back from multi-year highs and investors flocked to their favorite safe haven amidst Spanish and Italian controversies. Yields on 10-year notes and 30-year bonds dropped 4 basis points, while yields on 10-year Spanish bonds jumped 23 basis points and 10-year Italian bond yields popped 14 basis points [see also Seven Simple & Cheap ETF Model Portfolios].
Falling victim to profit taking pressures, Brent and U.S. crude oil futures backed off from four-month highs following more than three weeks of gains. Meanwhile, gold and platinum took the spotlight today as investors flocked to the precious safe havens; gold futures ended at $1,676, while platinum hit its four-month peak at $1,705.25.
ETF Chart Of The Day #1: (VXX)
The S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN VXN was one of the best performers today, gaining a whopping 6.89% during the session. As equities staged a steep pullback, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) surged near 15, forcing this ETF to gap significantly higher at the open. VXX climbed higher throughout the day, eventually settling near its high of $24.70 a share [see Low Volatility Portfolio].
ETF Chart Of The Day #2: (EWP)
The MSCI Turkey Spain Index Fund (EWP, B) also posted a weak performance today, shedding 5.43% during the session. Following a news report on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy moving to contain a scandal over alleged cash payments, this ETF, alongside with a sharp decline in Spanish stocks, gapped significantly lower at the open. EWP fell lower throughout the day, eventually settling at $29.63 a share [see Euro Free Europe Portfolio].
ETF Fun Fact Of The Day
The best-performing retirement strategy over the trailing four-week period has been the 30 Years Til Retirement Portfolio, which has gained 2.37%.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.