The first week of August was not nearly as positive as the last week of July for equity markets, which trended sideways before a weak jobs report sunk risky assets on Friday. Job creation continues to be a central issue for domestic equity markets, which seemed poised for a breakout in the wake of strong corporate earnings and moderating fears over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
Earnings season winds down this week, leaving key government reports from a variety of industrialized countries to set the tone for the markets. Among the biggest events are a Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan meeting on Tuesday. Additionally, reports from Germany on CPI levels as well as European GDP figures should help investors ascertain how the European economy is faring. Below, we profile three ETFs that look to be in focus over the next several days as the summer earnings ends and the dog days of August continue:
Global X Silver Miners ETF (SIL)
Why SIL Could Be In Focus: Two of the fund’s top three holdings, Silver Wheaton Corp (SLW) and Pan American Silver Corp (PAAS), report earnings on Thursday. Silver prices have been relatively stable over the past three months, hovering around the $18/oz. mark. However, prices could surge on a weaker dollar and increasing skepticism over the robustness of an American recovery. As investor demand for alternatives to fiat currencies has surged, both companies have been able to quickly grow their operations and should report solid earnings this quarter. Silver Wheaton had sales growth of 128% during the last fiscal year while Pan American Silver posted a 88% gain during the same period. Should these companies continue these trends, it could help to boost the rest of the surging sector; the fund has gained close to 5.9% over the past week alone [see Seven Reasons Silver Could Soar].
iShares Barclays 20 Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT)
Why TLT Could Be In Focus: On Friday the U.S. government releases its CPI numbers for the previous month. Should deflation fears continue to build, the report could spur demand for long-term fixed income seccurities. Analysts are predicting an increase in consumer prices by 0.2% over last month (when the reading was -0.1%). Another key event for TLT is likely to be the Fed’s August policy meeting, in which Bernanke and Co. will give their decision on rates. While there is virtually no chance that the Fed will raise rates, long-term bonds are likely to be heavily impacted by any reports that the bank may be considering quantitative easing measures; that meeting should help to determine the demand for bonds at least in the short-term.
iShares S&P Global Nuclear Energy Index Fund (NUCL)
Why NUCL Could Be In Focus: Cameco Corp (CCJ), NUCL’s single largest holding at about 8% of assets, reports earnings on Friday. The company is currently the world’s largest publicly traded uranium company, and accounts for 15% of world production for the material. Uranium prices have been surging as of late–rising by almost 8% since June 30th–which could help to boost profits for this Canadian-based mining firm. With more nuclear power plants developing in emerging countries such as China, demand for the mineral could increase Cameco’s guidance for the rest of the year and give investors a better idea of what to expect from NUCL.
EWJ: Despite broad weakness in American markets and a surging yen, EWJ managed to gain 1.7% last week. This came as the fund’s top component, Toyota Motor (TM), reported a robust earnings increase of 27% despite its massive recalls in the U.S. The company posted a $2.2 billion profit for the first quarter and raised its guidance for the rest of the year, boosting expected revenues almost $350 million dollars thanks to robust emerging market demand and strong sales in the U.S.
FXB: The British pound rallied against the dollar, posting gains of 2.3% on the week. The currency hit a six-month high against the greenback as the Bank of England met and left rates unchanged and its bond buying program still at $318 billion for the time being. If anything, the pound surged more on weakness in the U.S. than on strength in Great Britain, helping to push sterling just shy of the $1.60 mark.
EWN: This fund tracking the Dutch equity markets jumped higher by 1.7% for last week’s trading as fears cooled over the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the euro regained some of the ground it had lost over the past few months. This surge came despite a lukewarm earnings report from one of the fund’s largest components, Unilever. The consumer product giant beat estimates but saw continued weakness in its Southern European operations and predicted low levels of growth in other developed markets.
Disclosure: No positions at this time.