Friday was a bad end to a bad week for the market and for financials in particular, in the wake of President Obama's statements on limiting the risk-taking of large American banks.
Leading the downward march on Friday were shares of
, which lost almost 9%, and
, which fell more than 12%, highlighting how investors reacted wildly to negative information as the week came to a close. New credit card regulations were expected to affect the companies negatively.
In comparison to AXP and COF, credit card company peer
shed only a modest 2% on Friday, and even the main target of populist anger against Wall Street,
, was down only 5%. Stranger still is the fact that AXP's earnings were slightly better than the market expected.
However, after this week, the pattern should no longer be surprising. Important companies have been beating expectations left and right since earnings season began, but even when earnings have been stellar, the market has not seen it as positive enough to placate concerns about the future of the economy.
Macroeconomic issues such as China's tightening of lending and Obama's plans for banking regulation have made the market wary of a future slowdown in economic recovery to the point that the success of fourth-quarter earnings and even the whole of 2009 is barely relevant.
The market's wariness, when given unsettling future information alongside positive past results, may not be an entirely bad thing.
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This is because, if investors had forgotten the fact that recovery into 2010 is not going to be a sprint, then this week may have been a healthy reminder, preventing exuberance that may have led to an even larger market letdown later in the year. As I have said in my outlook for 2010, the year will test the market's stamina. I think this week was the first but probably not the last example of why this will be true.
With that in mind, here are this week's ETF winners and losers:
ProShares UltraShort China
There were plenty of inverse and inverse leveraged ETFs dominating the winners this week, but it was China's tightening of monetary policy (and fears of further tightening) that triggered much of the week's global selloff, earning FXP a well deserved spot as a winner this week.
PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Bullish Fund
The U.S. dollar index snapped higher after the euro sold off. A stronger yen tempered the gains, however, and while the U.S. dollar has appreciated vs. the euro, UUP did not break its December highs.
iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury
SPDR Barclays Long Term Treasury
Investors sought shelter from the storm last week and they gravitated to U.S. Treasuries. A stronger U.S. dollar didn't hurt either, as it made dollar-denominated assets more attractive to own.
Market Vectors Coal
The most favored ETFs of the previous few weeks and months became the most sold this week. There wasn't any other reason for the selloff in KOL, for instance, although it was hurt a bit by exposure to China. Investors are worried that monetary tightening will crimp economic growth, and that could lead to lower than expected coal demand.
Market Vectors Gold Miners
Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners
A stronger U.S. dollar sent commodities broadly lower, and gold bullion ETFs lost about 3% on the week. Miners were hit hard by a trifecta of a fall in gold prices, the larger decline in commodities and the decline in stocks.
Market Vectors Solar
Claymore/MAC Global Solar
In the previous week, France cut its subsidies to solar power makers, and Germany was expected to follow. This week, Germany delivered with the cuts and an already jittery market slammed solar shares. The news overshadowed a positive change for the solar industry in Ontario, where the government passed a $10 billion alternative energy deal with
At the time of publication, Dion was long KOL, GDXJ and TLT.
Don Dion is president and founder of
, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.
Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.