Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) dropped slightly in early trading today. But as has become the norm with ongoing concerns about European debt, we may see another drop in the major indexes in the waning minutes of trading.

ETFs are mostly flat after assurances from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the economy is improving. Bernanke said late Monday that European leaders are taking the right steps to curb their debt crisis, and that he didn’t expect the U.S. economy to fall into a second recession, which seemed to placate traders after some of Friday’s concerns over the disappointing job report.

In other encouraging jobs news, job openings rose to their highest level in 16 months in April. It’s a sign that hiring by private employers is healthy, despite what the monthly unemployment numbers signaled. Competition is still tough, though: there were five unemployed people for each job opening. Pre-recession, there were 1.8 unemployed workers for each opening.

In response to continued concerns over the debt crisis in Europe, the struggling euro, and a dip in European markets Tuesday, investors have been returning to safe-haven alternatives. Gold rose to a record high of $1,254.50 today, before settling at $1,244.80 an ounce. [Gold ETFs Keep Calm in Crisis.]

  • ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL)

Behind the McCafe, McDonald Corp.’s (NYSE: MCD) global sales rose 4.8% in May, exceeding analysts’ predictions. However, the fast-food giant said it anticipates the struggling global economy to continue to weigh on overall yearly earnings. [Consumer Discretionary ETFs: Outperformance in 2010?]

  • iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Services (NYSEArca: IYC): MCD is 5.1%

Aaron Hurst contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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