Today saw a conflicting swirl of data that ultimately brought markets down. April retail results came in lower than expected as many blamed the cooler than average temperatures for warding off shoppers and consumers willing to open their wallets. The disappointing results came from Target (TGT), Costco (COST) and Macy’s (M) among several other names. General Motors (GM), though meeting expectations, provided bad guidance which sent shares tumbling. At the same time, jobless claims came in rather low, so markets were unsure of how to react at first. Eventually, things headed south as the Dow and S&P 500 posted losses of 0.5% and 0.8% respectively.
On the commodity side of things, both gold and oil were slaughtered for the session. The massive sell-off begs the question if an entry point has been reached, but only time will tell if markets agree with that sentiment. Other notable commodity performances came from natural gas, cattle and coffee, all of which exhibited big swings for the day.
Today’s big winner comes from the United States Natural Gas Fund LP (UNG), which has been putting together a nice couple of trading sessions. With gains of 3.4% on the day, UNG is now up over 11% in the last two weeks. Take that with a grain of salt, however, as the fund is still down more than 37% on the year. Today’s big gains came from the weekly natural gas storage report that showed an unexpected dip in supplies, a result that has been a rarity in recent months. As such, traders bought up UNG at an alarming rate. The fund nearly doubled its average daily volume with 17.1 million shares traded.
One of the biggest ETF losers on the day was the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE). This fund, which tracks the U.S. energy market, dipped by nearly 1.7% on the day, as crude oil took a nose dive for the session. WTI crude futures lost more than 2.5% for the day, putting pressure on all of XLE’s underlying holdings. As crude is often used as a speculative/trading instrument, today’s weak economic data prompted a massive sell-off in the commodity which, in turn, hurt XLE. This ETF is up just over 1% on the year as the energy sector has had momentum issues for most of 2012.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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