American equity markets were flat again today as traders patiently await key meetings from central banks and economic reports to decide equities’ path in September. With this backdrop, the Dow added about 12 points while the broader indexes finished in the red as the Nasdaq slumped by 0.2% and the S&P 500 fell by 0.1%.
From a sector look, oil and the broad transport sector were the biggest losers on the day, although their respective industries did see relatively mixed trading, while banking, health care, and entertainment were the few sectors that definitively finished in the green. In terms of standouts, UNP, COP, and UPS all finished the session lower by at least 2.3% while on the upside, GS and CLF both added more than 3% in Wednesday’s trading (see 4 International ETFs Yielding more than 5%).
Meanwhile, the dollar also trended lower on the day, although strength was seen against the euro and the pound in the session. Rates had the opposite path, as safe havens saw yields rise while Italian and Spanish bonds continued to fall with both falling by about 16 basis points on the day.
Commodities were also weaker despite the uncertainty in the dollar, as gold was flat and oil only added a few cents on the session. Investors did see, on the other hand, strong performances in some soft commodities, although wheat, corn, and sugar all fell in Wednesday trading (read Invest like Mitt Romney with these Three ETFs).
In ETF trading, volume took a slight step back across the board as lower-than-average trading levels were seen in a variety of assets. Activity was especially light in a number of commodity ETFs, although there was lackluster trading in a few major equity ETFs that target broad markets as well.
Particularly, ETF investors saw an outsized level of interest in the iShares MSCI Germany Index ETF (EWG) during Wednesday trading. The fund usually sees about 4.3 million shares change hands in a normal day, but over 22 million shares moved hands in mid-week trading (see The Comprehensive Guide to German ETF Investing).
The product looks to be in focus tomorrow as well with the ECB meeting, although it should be noted that investors are certainly feeling good about the fund as of late. In fact, EWG added about 0.7% today, helping to cancel out last week’s slump and suggesting that a decent day could be in store for the fund tomorrow as well.
Another fund which saw volume levels that exceeded norms was the iShares S&P Global Technology ETF (IXN). This fund usually does about 45,000 shares in volume in a normal day but saw roughly 10x that move hands in today’s session (also read Why SSDD is the Top Tech ETF).
The burst in volume came despite a pretty flat session overall for the fund, as the product lost about 0.1% on the day. Furthermore, many of the top holdings in the fund saw below-average volume days for their individual stocks, suggesting that a broad look at the sector was in vogue today as opposed to individual security selection, at least among some traders that look at the international tech space.
(see more in the Zacks ETF Center)
Disclosure: long EWG.