Positive economic data lifted equities Tuesday through Friday, culminating with positive comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Investors forgot about the Monday plunge in stocks triggered by a selloff in mainland Chinese equities as manufacturing and housing data were helpful, but it was Bernanke saying the U.S. economy was on the cusp of a recovery that juiced stocks on Friday.
Investors moved back into risk trades this week, and that meant outperformance from emerging markets, housing and oil. There was an eclectic mix, however, as both currency and country funds vied for the top spot.
iShares Turkey (TUR) +7.2%
WisdomTree Dreyfus South African Rand (SZR) +3.7%TUR is one of the strongest funds we track in terms of long- and short-term momentum. Similarly situated ETFs were down over the previous week or had small gains, while TUR raced ahead. I don't know whether that can last, but the fund seems impervious to the nervousness that suppressed the prices of Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Brazil ETFs. SZR is one of the strongest currency funds since May. It corrected in the previous week, but this week's return of the bull helped lift the currency. The rand is a high-risk currency that will be volatile in either direction. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction (ITB) +3.5% SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB) +3.2% Housing data showed sales of existing homes increased more than 7% from June to July, and this sent the housing stocks higher. It was the largest month-to-month increase on record, though data only goes back to 1999. Again, homebuilding stocks saw the largest gains, so the homebuilder-heavy ITB bested the more retail-influenced XHB.