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ETF Trading Report: Europe, Agricultural ETFs In Focus

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American markets finished the Holiday-shortened week on a down note as a disappointing jobs report sent stocks lower. Analysts had expected nonfarm payrolls to increase by about 90,000 m/m but the results came in at just 80,000. Meanwhile private payrolls, which were expected to come in at 100,000, only showed an increase of 84,000 suggesting that some level of weakness still exists in the jobs market.

Thanks to this bearish report, the Dow finished the day lower by about 1% while the S&P 500 slumped by 0.9% on the session. The Nasdaq did even worse as the tech-heavy benchmark slumped by 1.3% on the day, although it did finish Friday well off of its lows (see 11 Great Dividend ETFs).

From a sector look, red was more or less throughout the market. Basic materials, tech, and financials were the leaders on the downside, while consumer, services, utilities, and health care held up better than most in today’s rocky session.

Thanks in part to this gloom, investors continued to pile into the dollar, pushing the U.S. dollar index up almost $0.40, largely thanks to a one cent gain against the euro. Meanwhile, Treasury bill yields continued to fall, with the 10 year now paying out just 1.56% to investors (read Follow Buffett with These Developed Market Bond ETFs).

While it might have been positive in the bond and currency markets, investors continued to see weakness and volatility in the commodity world, led by more weakness in precious metals, and especially, energy products. Natural gas fell by over 5.6% on the day while WTI crude sunk by 3.5%, while grains also saw weakness for the first day in quite some time as corn, wheat, and soybeans were all lower on the session.

ETF trading was pretty light on the Friday session as the combination of the end of the week and the midweek holiday kept many traders on the sidelines. Still, investors did see decent volume in a number of commodity products, the semiconductor sector, and a few emerging market funds as well.

In particular, investors saw a robust trading day for the iShares MSCI EMU Index Fund (EZU - Free Report) . This product usually does about 366,000 shares in a normal day but did volume of nearly 3.5 million shares during Friday’s session (see Spanish Bailout: Did It Help European ETFs?).

Yet while the volume was robust, the vast majority of it was thanks to a single block trade of nearly 2.9 million shares around 10am Eastern Time. If investors take this out of the equation, it probably becomes just an average trading day for EZU.

Still this is somewhat remarkable as the product is becoming increasingly in focus thanks to ongoing European troubles, especially in Spain and Italy. Due to this, EZU on its impressive volume, fell by about 2.6% to close out the week.

Another fund that was in focus on the day was once again in the agricultural ETF market as grain prices finally receded during Friday’s session.  This was especially the case for the PowerShares DB Agriculture Double Long ETN (DAG - Free Report) which saw volume nearly four times the daily average (see USAG In Focus As Agricultural Commodity ETFs Soar).

This huge boost in trading interest was mostly concentrated in the first part of the session as a number of relatively large blocks moved the product in the first hour. Still, the ETN finished the day lower by about 3.7% as grain and soft commodity prices tumbled across the board, led by large losses in wheat, corn, coffee, cocoa, and soybeans during the rocky session.

(see more in the Zacks ETF Center)

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