With the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) having dropped almost 650 points since Nov. 1, investors came into the week hoping for a turnaround. And, at least for one day, they got exactly that: The Dow soared right from the open on hopes that lawmakers will agree upon an eventual solution to the looming fiscal cliff. As of 3:10 p.m. EST, the Dow is up 171.5 points, or 1.36%.

To dig more deeply into the stock market's success, I like to look at exchange-traded funds to see where investors are focusing their attention. ETFs that focus on volatility aren't sharing in today's market gains. The Barclays iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term ETN (ASE: VXX) is down more than 7.5%, while the double-levered VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short-Term ETN (ASE: TVIX) is plunging 14%. Although volatility tends to go up during market downturns, these ETFs have been surprisingly subdued during November's plunge, and at current levels, they're not trading far below their lowest levels of the month.

Meanwhile, looking at broader sectors of the market, ETFs tracking the materials sector are doing particularly well. Major materials company Monsanto (NYS: MON) is up about 3.6%, while Freeport-McMoRan (NYS: FCX) is rising more than 4%, as strength in the agricultural and housing markets helps pave the way to bigger gains.


Utilities, meanwhile, are the big laggard in the market, with ETFs tracking the sector among the sole losers. In general, utility stocks are seen as more conservative and tend to underperform in rallies, but many utility companies are also facing major challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as they try to rebuild following massive outages and losses of infrastructure.

Go where the gains are
Sectors may rise and fall on a given day, but the best long-term investing ideas stand the test of time. To find some, let me invite you to read the Fool's brand-new special report: "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so just click here and get your copy today.

The article The Dow's Up Big: Here's Why originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Monsanto. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Professional Vs Do it Yourself Investing

Should you get advice or DYI?

View Course »

What Is Your Risk Tolerance?

Answer the question "What type of investor am I?".

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum