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The string of disappointing news continues as equity markets got off to a mixed start following the latest economic data release on the home front. Factory orders in April came in at negative 0.6%, marking a modest contraction in the manufacturing sector and ultimately falling short of the the expected 0.1% growth figure. On the home front, the Nasdaq pulled ahead, clinching a 0.46% gain on the day, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average crept lower, shedding 0.14% as the trading session drew to a close.

Last week's dismal employment report will continue to weigh down on investors' confidence as expectations for an additional round of quantitative easing intensify this month. The lack of resolution in the overseas currency bloc is the other major headwind that's troubling markets as investors cope with the possibility of a full-fledged financial crisis to spill over. To kick off this week, gold futures settled near $1,620 an ounce, while crude oil gained over 1% on the day, settling just above $84 a barrel.

The Van Eck Market Vectors Gold Miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) was one of the best performers, gaining 1.61% on the day. Gold futures drifted slightly lower on the day, giving up only a portion of the massive gains tacked on last Friday. The commodity producers pulled ahead of the yellow metal itself as bargain buyers bolstered GDX higher; this ETF closed at a multi-week high at $47.35 a share as the closing bell rang.

(click to enlarge)The Barclays iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) was one of the worst performers, shedding 4.03% on the day. Surprisingly, the Volatility Index crept lower despite the worse-than-expected factory orders report this morning; however, the VIX remains above the 25 mark, which means that uncertainty levels are still at multi-month highs.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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Source: GDX Turns Higher On Sour Data, VXX Creeps Lower