Stocks rose broadly in the early part of the session as hopes for a broad Greek coalition helped to spur gains in the morning. Then, in the final hours, investors scooped up more shares on rumors of a coordinated central bank move coming soon, pushing stocks to highs for the session before they tapered off a bit into the close.
Overall, the Nasdaq finished the day ahead by 0.6% while the broader indexes gained more with the S&P 500 jumping by 1.1% and the Dow adding 1.2% on the day. This came after a mixed-to-negative session in Europe and a day of red in Asia, suggesting that sentiment is quite fickle and that rumors and speculation are now in the driver’s seat.
Thanks in part to a risk-on trade, the U.S. dollar slumped below the $82 mark as the euro gained about seven-tenths of a cent against the greenback. Meanwhile, bonds were flat but tilted negative, as the 10 year saw yields rise three basis points to the 1.63% level (Read PUW: Crushing The Clean Energy ETF Competition).
Commodities were also mixed, as natural resources were across the board in Thursday trading. Most energy products rose while natural gas stormed higher, adding over 15% on the day. Agricultural and metals were more or less flat, as coffee and silver fell, while gold and corn added a bit in the session.
For ETF trading, volume was heavy thanks to the flurry of late session activity, but without that, it probably would have been a light session across the board. Still, in terms of heavy volume sectors, some commodities, short leveraged products, and U.S. sectors did see some outsized trading during the Thursday session.
One ETF that experienced a day of outsized volume was once again the iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund (EWP - ETF report). Volume levels were nearly triple the average, and while it was quite spread out, a large chunk of the trading came during the final hour of the session (See Spanish Bailout: Did It Help European ETFs?).
Still, the product managed to add about 1.7% on the day as the country was downgraded by Moody’s to one level above junk while yields on 10-year debt soared to nearly 6.96%. Clearly the Spanish debt situation is beginning to reach a breaking point so investors should look for more activity, and volume, in this product during Friday’s session as well.
Another ETF which experienced a jump in interest was in the natural gas space, specifically in the case of the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG - ETF report). The product usually sees volume of about 10 million shares but saw a massive spike to the 27 million share mark during Thursday trading (See Forget UNG Try These Natural Gas ETFs Instead).
This enormous move came as UNG added close to 15% on the day thanks to an extremely bullish reading in the weekly inventory report. In the release, the EIA said that inventories rose 67 bcf during the last week, decidedly below the 75bcf that was forecast.
This move also helped to cause a spike in interest in both of the 3x leveraged natural gas ETNs—(DGAZ - ETF report) and (UGAZ - ETF report)—as these products, respectively, lost 40% and gained 40% on the day. Both notes use a triple daily leverage mechanism to accomplish their goals and saw volume that was well above the average as well (read Have The Natural Gas ETFs Finally Bottomed Out?).