Although the Fed’s Beige Book report was only lukewarm, investors pushed stocks higher once again thanks to solid corporate earnings reports from a number of bellwethers. However, the optimism seemed to be focused on tech as the Dow and the S&P 500, which were up, respectively, 0.8% and 0.7% on the session, fell behind the Nasdaq which added 1.1% on the day.
This outperformance by the Nasdaq was led by a number of strong performances in the technology sector. Among the top performers were Intel (up 3.3%), Cisco (up 2.9%), and Microsoft (up 2.7%), while Bank of America led on the downside, sliding by almost five percent thanks to weak revenue numbers (see 11 Great Dividend ETFs).
Despite the general good mood in the markets and a flat dollar, Treasury bills continued to see yields slump as the 10 Year fell below the 1.5% mark, losing two basis points on the day. Meanwhile, commodities were again big winners, led by a 6.1% move higher in natural gas, while the grains again added a few percentage points on what turned out to be a pretty good session for most of the natural resources.
Still, ETF trading was once again light, as a number of top products saw trading volumes below average. However, a few specialized sectors did see outsized volume levels, including the tech, health care, and agricultural markets during Wednesday’s session.
In particular, investors saw a huge bump in interest for the SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF (XSD). The product usually sees about 100,000 shares in volume but saw more than 450,000 shares move hands during Wednesday’s session (see Three Great Tech ETFs That Avoid Apple).
Undoubtedly, a large reason for this increase was thanks to Intel (INTC) and their report after the bell yesterday. The semiconductor giant beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by two cents a share and was up close to 3.3% on the day. Thanks to this solid report from the industry’s bellwether, the entire industry was up, pushing XSD to a nearly 4% gain in the session.
Another fund which saw more interest than usual was the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO). This product usually does about half a million shares in normal trading but did twice that in Wednesday’s session (read Buy These ETFs to Profit from the Global Population Boom).
Interestingly, the volume in MOO was pretty well spread out over the day, with no major block trades dominating the volume picture. Instead, it appears as though the incredible drought across much of the Midwest is pushing many investors to look at the agribusiness space once more, adding to the trading and volume interest for the fund during the day’s trading period.
(see more in the Zacks ETF Center)