January has been a tumultuous month for the U.S. equities and stock exchange traded funds as the stronger U.S. dollar, overseas uncertainty, continued plunge in oil prices and weaker-than-anticipated earnings season pull on the markets.
Over January, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.7%, the Nasdaq Composite decreased 2.6% and he S&P 500 fell 3.1%.
The best performing non-leveraged exchange traded products over the past month include C-Tracks on Citi Volatility Index ETN (NYSEArca: CVOL) up 20.0%, iShares MSCI Global Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: RING) up 18% and Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF’s (NYSEArca: GDX) up 17%.
The CBOE Volatility Index has been ticking higher over January, ending at around 21, compared to its historical range of about 15 to 20. The increased uncertainty, notably from falling energy, has pushed investors to take a VIX and volatility hedge against potential turns in the S&P 500. [Hedge Against a Volatile Year with VIX ETFs]
Bullion has been strengthening as a safe-haven bet and a store of wealth, lifting gold mining stocks. Additionally, after the Swiss National Bank shocked financial markets by scrapping the franc’s peg to the euro, gold continued to find strength. Ongoing weakness in equities and spike in volatility helped gold assets gain through the month. [What a Week for Gold Miners ETFs]
The worst performing non-leveraged ETFs over the past month include the d Barclays Inverse U.S. Treasury Aggregate ETN (NYSEArca: TAPR) down 27.1%, iPath Dow Jones-UBS Natural Gas Total Return Sub-Index ETN (NYSEArca: GAZ) down 25.6% and Morgan Stanley S&P 500 Crude Oil Linked ETN (NYSEArca: BARL) down 21.7%.
The equities market began the new year by pulling back from the strong end to 2014 on weakness in the Eurozone, the manufacturing sector and further uncertainty with oil prices dipping lower.