After stumbling in July, U.S. equities and stock exchange traded funds rallied to new highs in August, with the S&P 500 index closing above 2,000 for the first time.
Over August, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.2%. The Nasdaq Composite increased 4.8%. The S&P 500 added 3.8%, closing at 2,003.37 on the last day of August.
The top performing non-leveraged ETFs over the past month include ELEMENTS Linked to Spectrum Large Cap U.S. Sector Momentum Index (NYSEArca: EEH) up 68.1%, First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (NYSEArca: FBT) up 10.1% and iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Total Return Sub-Index ETN (NYSEArca: JO) up 8.6%.
EEH tracks an index based on the relative weights of the sub-indices within the S&P 500 Index and follows a momentum strategy. Accordingly, the index overweights sub-indices that outperform the S&P 500 while under-weighting under-performing sub-indices. After the monthly surge, the exchange traded note now trades at a wide disparity to its net asset value, trading around a 37.8% premium to its NAV, according to Morningstar.
The biotech sector is gaining momentum on greater merger and acquisition activity, notably after Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche announced it will acquire InterMune (NasdaqGS: ITMN) for $8.3 billion in cash. Additionally, new breakthroughs and specialized drug therapies are supporting companies as an increasingly attractive growth sector, with companies developing one-of-a-kind drugs that instantly create a competitive advantage, or economic moat. [InterMune Acquisition Could Ignite These Biotech ETFs]
Meanwhile, coffee prices are also rebounding on a more pessimistic crop outlook. The coffee industry now realizes that the drought in Brazil earlier this year has been more damaging than previously thought. The heat and dry spell has stunted growth of coffee crops, lowering the outlook of harvests for next year. [Coffee ETNs Surge on Pessimistic Brazilian Harvests]