The end of July saw stocks finish in the red across the board as decent personal income and Chicago PMI numbers weren’t enough to offset more uncertainty from Europe, the Fed, and crucial job numbers on Friday. In terms of sectors, oil and services were big losers along with utilities, while some health care, smaller energy names, and big tech held up rather well on the session.
Thanks to these performances, the Dow finished the day lower by 0.5% while the S&P 500 lost 0.4% on the session. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq, buoyed by a strong performance from Apple, finished lower by 0.2% in comparison (read Time to Buy the India Infrastructure ETF).
Clearly a modest risk off trade was in swing during Tuesday’s session, as the U.S. ten year saw yields fall by about three basis points while German bonds also retreated while Italian and Spanish counterparts saw yields rise once again. With this result, the dollar was strong against the euro, but neutral to weak against many of the other world currencies, putting pressure on commodities across the board.
In fact, crude oil finished lower by about 2.6% while many softs also slumped on the day as well. However, some strength was seen in the industrial metal and soybeans markets, as these commodities were some of the few to even approach the positives on the session (read Top Commodity ETFs in this Uncertain Market).
For ETF trading, volume was again light across a number of equity products with funds tracking major U.S. segments seeing far less than normal interest. However, we did see a resurgence in commodity ETF interest, as well as a return to modest trading levels in the emerging market, and developed market ETF world.
Particularly, investors saw an outsized level of interest in the iShares MSCI Sweden Index Fund (EWD). This product usually does volume of about 200,000 shares in a normal session but experienced a spike to well over half a million shares in Tuesday’s session (see Three European ETFs Beyond the Euro Zone).
Trading was surprisingly well spread out in the high volume day, although a couple of big blocks did change hands in the first few hours of the day. Furthermore, the product finished the day relatively flat, outperforming more broad based funds which also saw heightened levels of volume in the early part of the session.
Another fund which was more popular than usual from a trading perspective on the day was the iPath DJ-UBS Livestock TR Sub-Index ETN (COW). This product usually does about 30,000 shares in volume on a normal day but had roughly 75,000 shares change hands today.
The ETN fell by about 1.4% on this high volume, bringing the year-to-date return for COW deeper into the red. This is somewhat surprising given the solid performance by grains so far this year, as livestock should be appreciating in line with these crops but has failed to match their performances so far in 2012.
(Currently, COW has a Zacks ETF Rank of 4 or ‘Sell’)
(see more in the Zacks ETF Center)