How ETFs Are Responding to Today's Market Movers

 |  Includes: ACWI, DIA, FXE, QQQ, SPY, TM
by: Tom Lydon

Stocks are on the anemic side this morning, as the MSCI World Index dropped the most on major concerns, taking the euro down with it. Can related exchange traded funds spread this risk out for investors holding them?

A surprise increase in jobless claims and concerns about Europe’s debt have taken the MSCI World Index, an index of 23 countries, down to its lowest level in four months. The euro sank 0.8 % to $1.3781 against the dollar, the lowest since June 16, report Rita Nazareth and Gavin Serkin for Bloomberg. iShares MSCI ACWI Index (NASDAQ:ACWI) is down 3% so far today.

Retreating shares in the MSCI World outnumbered rising stocks by almost six to one, while only 20 companies in the S&P 500 advanced and all but one in the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank.

Edward Krudy for Reuters reports that the number of Americans claiming jobless benefits rose unexpectedly and renewed fears of sovereign debt problems in Europe led investors to dump riskier assets. The dollar rose against the euro, as it slid to seven months lows on sovereign debt worries in Greece. CurrencyShares Euro Trust (NYSEARCA:FXE) is down 1% this morning.

Retailers received a pleasant surprise in January as shoppers bought a little more clothing at mall stores, delivering solid gains for many. Is this the uptick that many are looking for as proof of a recovery in consumer spending?

Anne DInnocenzio for Associated Press reports that sales figures released Thursday showed two kinds of consumers: ordinary folks who are buying a little more but still focused on bargains, and the affluent who are spending more freely on brand names such as Gucci and other luxury brands as they feel encouraged by their rebounding stock portfolios. Claymore/ROBB Luxury ETF (ROB) may reflect the shift eventually, but it’s down more than 5% today. [Luxury ETFs and the Price-Conscious Consumer.]

U.S. productivity rose in the fourth quarter and factory orders are up as companies work to rebuild profits while keeping payrolls pared down. Bob Willis for Bloomberg reports that employee output per hour rose at a 6.2% annual rate at the end of 2009, capping the biggest annual gain in six years, according to the Labor Department,

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has a new problem to contend with on top of the 8.1 million recalled cars: brake issues in the 2010 Prius. A formal investigation under way. Toyota officials estimate the total cost of the global recall could be as much as $2 billion, including the loss of 100,000 vehicle sales in the United States and Europe, reports Peter Dapena for CNN Money.

Disclosure: Read the disclaimer, as Tom Lydon is a board member of Rydex|SGI.