Global stocks and exchange traded funds have surged out of the gate in 2013 following the last-minute compromise on the U.S. fiscal cliff. Positive economic data and higher earnings helped maintain the momentum, but the markets slowed a bit at the end of the month on poor fourth quarter growth numbers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a 7.7% gain over the past month. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite added 6.2% and the S&P 500 increased 7.2%
The top performing non-leveraged ETFs over January include the Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (NYSEArca: VNM) up 24.3%, PowerShares KBW Capital Markets Portfolio (NYSEArca: KBWC) up 14.5% and Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (NYSEArca: KWT) up 13.5%.
Vietnamese stocks rallied after the government stepped in to bolster the economy. Meanwhile, more foreign investors are investing in Vietnam because of positive reforms, a strong growth outlook and positive demographics. [Vietnam ETF Rallies on Reform Measures, Economy]
The U.S. capital markets are making a strong turnaround as robust balance sheets and expected growth across various industries will help boost business. [Financial ETF Eyes Post-Crisis High After JP Morgan, Goldman Earnings]
Alternative energy stocks also made a rebound in the New Year after government subsidies for the solar industry were left intact after the fiscal cliff budget deal. [Alternative Energy ETFs Win in Fiscal Cliff Deal]
On the flip side, the bottom performing non-leveraged ETFs over the past month include ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: VIXY) down 22.3%, ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: VIXM) down 17.7% and United States Metals Index Fund (NYSEArca: USMI) down 11.6%.
The decline in volatility-linked products shows investors are growing more confident in the rally.
Positive economic data, such as better employment numbers, healthy retail sales, housing starts and better-than-expected earnings, have lifted the S&P 500 near its all-time high from 2007.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve has maintained its quantitative easing plan to buy bonds as a way to keep rates down and stimulate the economy.
Meanwhile, financial problems in Europe have abated, boosting confidence in the euro.
However, the month ended on a dour note after the U.S. government revealed an unexpected fourth quarter contraction in the economy.
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Max Chen contributed to this article.