U.S. stocks had a choppy, but positive, session in Thursday trading as conflicting data tugged the markets in both directions. Existing home sales and jobless claims both came in worse than expected, although IBM’s report helped to boost tech while UNP’s earnings announcement added to positive sentiment in the transports.
Thanks to this, the Dow and the S&P 500 both moved higher by 0.3% while the Nasdaq led the way on the upside, adding 0.8% in Thursday trading. In terms of sector performances, telecoms and banks were definitely losers, while strength was seen in some corners of the tech world, as well as consumer goods and a few of the service firms as well (see Can You Beat These High Dividend ETFs?).
The dollar did weaken a tad against many of the world’s major currencies, while the ten year did move a little higher up to a 1.51% level. Meanwhile, commodities continued to strengthen, as all of the energy products moved higher, while wheat and coffee led the softs with gains of at least 3.5% for both of these key crops.
ETF trading was mixed in Thursday’s session as some products continued to trade more than normal but many funds that occupy some of the most popular segments including the broad market, mid caps, and gold, traded a paltry number of shares during the day.
In particular, investors saw a great deal of interest in the iPath DJ-UBS Livestock TR Sub-Index ETN (COW). This product usually does about 27,000 shares in volume on a normal day but saw close to 100,000 shares move hands during Thursday trading (read Is It Time To Buy The Livestock ETFs?).
Clearly, investors are beginning to take notice of this ETN that follows the broad livestock market as a corn crisis hits the U.S. This disaster is boosting the cost of feed for a variety of livestock which could push meat prices higher across the board. Thanks to this speculation, COW added about 0.6% in today’s trading and it is now up close to 1.9% over the past five day period, while volume levels have also been soaring as well.
Another product which saw a strange volume pattern was in the India ETF market with the PowerShares India Portfolio (PIN). This product saw an enormous block trade change hands right at the closing bell, moving the product a little higher to close out the session (see Does Your Portfolio Need An India ETF?).
In fact, the trade was so big that it alone was enough to boost the product over its daily volume average. More interestingly, investors didn’t really see a similar spike in a number of the other India ETFs during Thursday’s trading, suggesting that some investors are looking to PIN for their Indian exposure as we close out the week.
(See more in the Zacks ETF Center)