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ETF News And Commentary

U.S. stocks finished the week on a very good note as a rash of solid earnings reports helped to boost equity sentiment heading into the weekend. Thanks to this, the Dow rose by about 1.6%, while the S&P 500 added 1.7% and the Nasdaq gained 1.5% in Friday trading.

Among the stars in Friday trading were the big banks, as JP Morgan crushed analyst earnings expectations despite the multibillion dollar trading loss earlier in the quarter. The company saw its stock rise by about 6% as a result of the beat, helping to carry other large banking institutions to huge gains on the day as well.

Thanks to the risk on trade, investors saw the U.S. dollar decline slightly, pushing the benchmark U.S. dollar index down to about $83.33 on the day. Meanwhile, Treasury bonds did see yields rise, as the 10 year gained two basis points to finish at a 1.49% payout (see Developed Asia Pacific ETF Investing 101).

Commodities also surged on the day, led by decent days in the metals and energy markets as investors piled into all types of natural resources. Soft and grain products also rose on the day, led by a 3.9% gain in cotton and a 2.2% jump in the coffee markets during Friday trading.

Despite the positive day in the markets, many ETFs saw minimal levels of volume. Commodity products traded, roughly, half as much as usual while a number of major U.S. sector products also had similarly light days of volume. Big movers on the volume front were few and far between as a result, as a few sector funds and a handful of forex and commodity ETFs led the way in terms of outsized volume during the session.

In particular, ETF investors saw a big day of volume in the iShares MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index Fund (SCZ - ETF report). This product generally does volume of about 340,000 shares a day but saw more than 1.1 million shares move hands during Friday trading (read Seven Biggest International Equity ETFs).

Despite this bump in volume, SCZ lost a little on the day while its large cap counterparts tracking broad international markets actually gained more than 1.4% in the session. It should also be noted that volume was pretty spread out in the fund although we have been seeing more interest in this ETF during recent trading sessions.

Another product which was pretty popular among investors today was the PowerShares DB Base Metals ETF (DBB - ETF report). This product usually does about 105,000 shares in volume but experienced a spike to just under 600,000 shares today (read Copper Mining ETFs Head-to-head).

While this increase in volume was impressive, investors should note that block trading dominated the fund during Friday trading. In fact, 70% of the trading came during two block trades, both of which were in the afternoon part of the session.

Although the volume may have been concentrated, investors should note that solid base metal performances propelled the product to the green during the day. DBB added about 1.5% during today’s session, although it has lost about 6.2% from a year-to-date look.

(see more in the Zacks ETF Center)

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