The month of April opened on a refreshing note for equities only to end somberly. The dual dose of a dovish Fed and the long-needed oil price recovery could not materially boost the ailing equities.
Among the top ETFs, investors saw SPY gain about 0.5%, DIA add over 0.6% and QQQ move lower by about 3.3% in the last one month (as of May 2, 2016). Let's peek into the ETF headlines of the month and find out the major events that led to such market movements.
As widely expected, the Fed stayed put in its April meeting, keeping the rates unchanged thanks to global growth worries and moderation in U.S. growth.
However, subtle improvement in the global market backdrop led the U.S. central bank to stay away from comments like "however, global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks" that we had heard in the March meeting. Instead, it focused on keeping an eye on the inflationary scenario as well as ' global economic and financial developments '. PowerShares DB US Dollar Bullish Fund ( UUP ) was a victim of this policy and lost its strength (read: ETFs that Won & Lost Post Fed Meet ).
Oil Stays Bullish
The most striking April event was the oil price recovery despite the failure of the output freeze deal by OPEC in the Doha meeting. Though Iran excused itself from the meeting of the 18 oil-producing nations, pouring cold water on a likely production cut agreement, oil went on rallying in April on reports of a drawdown in U.S. crude inventory (read: 5 ETFs to Buy if Oil Stays at $40 ).
A subdued greenback, a declining rig count and better demand/supply balance added to the optimism. While crude oil ETFs like USO and BNO tacked on solid gains in April, associated investments like energy MLPs also bounced back. USO and BNO were up about 18.5% and 19.1%, respectively, in the last one month (as of May 2, 2016) and the largest MLP ETF Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP) added about 14.3% during the same timeframe.
Technology Sector Rout
April witnessed a barrage of technology earnings, many of which actually stoked fears about the sector. First, several tech behemoths like International Business Machines ( IBM ), Netflix ( NFLX ), Microsoft (MSFT) and Alphabet Inc. ( GOOGL ) came up with a volley of downbeat earnings. To make matters worse, tech bellwether Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) posted lower-than-expected earnings and revenues in second-quarter fiscal 2016, reported its first quarterly revenue drop in 13 years and the first-ever decline in iPhone sales.
This was enough to roil the investors' confidence in the tech space. As a result, technology ETF XLK lost about 5.1% in the last one month (as of May 2, 2016).
Mining Sector Stands Tall
This is the one area that gave an all-star performance in the month. Actually a softer dollar acted as a major tailwind to the commodity while expansion in the manufacturing sector in the world's two largest economies - the U.S. and China - boosted demand for metals to quite an extent.
Gold bullion ETF GLD and silver bullion ETF SLV added about 5.4% and 16%, respectively, in the last one month (as of May 2, 2016). Since silver is widely used for industrial purposes, an uptick in manufacturing activities plainly favored silver investing (read: Global Manufacturing Picks Up: ETFs to Watch ).
And since mining ETFs generally act as leveraged plays on the underlying metals, Global X Gold Explorers ETF (GLDX) and PureFunds ISE Junior Silver ETF (SILJ) are among those that were on a tear in April.
Lucky Month for Grains
After languishing at the start of 2016, some soft commodities also started pacing in April. In the forefront were cotton ETNs like iPath Pure Beta Cotton ETN (CTNN) and cocoa ETNs like iPath Bloomberg Cocoa Subindex Total Return ETN (NIB) . Inclement weather was mainly behind this jump.
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