Gold ETFs, Gold Stocks Flash As Stock Market Wilts; Volatility ETN Spikes

Gold and gold mining stock ETFs continued to show leadership Thursday as U.S. stocks wilted, with concerns about global growth outweighing positive jobs data.

SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD ) gapped up and added 1.4% to 118.61. The IBD Leaderboard ETF has struggled since its March 3 breakout.

However, "after a visit to its 50-day moving average, it's getting into position again for another possible breakout try over a 120.94 buy point," according to the IBD markets team.

Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ) jumped 3.1% for a third straight session of gains. Mining stocks are considered a leveraged play on the price of gold .

IPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ( VXX ) spiked 9% as the risk-off mood intensified through Thursday's session.

VXX provides access to equity market volatility through futures contracts on the CBOE Volatility Index (or, simply, "the VIX," a trusted gauge of fear in the markets).

International stocks fared little better than domestic peers, with beaten-down Japan exchange traded funds trading mixed as the yen hit its highest level against the U.S. dollar in the past year.

IShares MSCI Japan ( EWJ ) slipped 0.5% on the stock market today , giving up early gains.

WisdomTree Japan SmallCap Dividend ( DFJ ) eked out a 0.1% gain.

Their recent moves reflected some bargain-hunting.

"Some investors are looking more closely at Japanese equities after the sell-off since the beginning of the year," said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF research for S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Japan-focused ETFs, both currency hedged and non-hedged, have slumped as the yen has rallied.

Both EWJ and DFJ gave up roughly 3% in the past week.

CurrencyShares Japanese Yen (FXY) rose 3.8% in the same period. FXY tracks the changes in value of the Japanese yen relative to the U.S. dollar.

The ETF gapped up more than 1% to a 52-week high of 89.85 Thursday, but closed near session lows. Year to date, it has jumped 10.7%.

A rocky start to the year for global stock, currency and commodity markets has boosted the yen, a preferred safe-haven asset.

However, that's dampened investors' enthusiasm for Japan equity ETFs -- an outperforming fund category in 2015.

"A rising yen is in general not good for a country that has high exposure to exporting companies," Rosenbluth explained. "Hedged or unhedged, a strong local currency can be drag for U.S. investors."

EWJ, the flagship Japan stock ETF with $16.14 billion in assets, counts multinationals Toyota Motor (TM), Honda Motor (HMC) and Sony (SNE) among its top 10 holdings.

11 Bellwether ETFs

Here's a look at how the major exchange traded funds tracking various asset classes performed today.

Following daily ETF market action can be key to successful investing:

SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), -1.2%, RS 68

PowerShares QQQ (QQQ), -1.5%, RS 71

SPDR Dow Jones industrial average (DIA), -1.0%, RS 71

IShares Core S&P Mid-Cap (IJH), -1.3%, RS 61

IShares Russell 2000 (IWM), -1.4%, RS 43

IShares MSCI EAFE (EFA), -1.5%, RS 41

Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO), -2.1%, RS 47

SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD ), +1.4%, RS 80

IShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond (AGG), +0.2%, RS 64

PowerShares DB U.S.$ Bullish (UUP), +0.1%, RS 47

IPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ( VXX ), +9.7%, RS 17

Image provided by Shutterstock .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.