After a bumpy session last week, stocks on Wall Street stumbled out of the gates on Monday morning as more of the same uncertainty weighted on investors’ confidence. Earnings reports at home remain a mixed bag, making way for looming eurozone debt woes, and ultimately paving the way for profit taking. On the home front, the Nasdaq led the way lower, shedding 1% on the day, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average proved most resilient, shedding just 0.78% on the day.
With no major economic data releases on the home front today, investors turned their attention to the brewing turmoil in the overseas currency bloc. Levels of uncertainty escalated as fears grew over the possibility of the Netherlands losing its coveted “AAA” credit rating, coupled with anxiety spilling over from the second round of presidential elections in France. Amidst the largely uncertain backdrop, gold prices were quite volatile. Futures prices for the yellow metal sank to a low of $1,623 an ounce in the morning, only to settle just below the $1,640 level by the time the closing bell rang.
The Barclays iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) was one of the best performers, gaining 3.32% on the day. Volatility levels shot right back up as looming eurozone debt woes reignited concerns over the financial health of the region. Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., commented, ““Markets are realizing that messy European national politics could aggravate already complex economic and financial conditions."
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(click to enlarge)The iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI) was one of the worst performers, shedding 2.63% on the day. FXI gapped lower from the opening bell as investors fretted over the latest Chinese manufacturing data. The HSBC China PMI Index came in better-than-expected at 49.1. However, readings below 50 are considered “contractionary," and this figure has remained in worrisome territory for the past six months.
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