Wednesday's ETF to Watch: NASDAQ Fund (QQQ)

After several dismal trading sessions, investors were able to get their minds off of frustrating debt woes and celebrate a strong earnings lineup from a number of American bellwethers. Now that earnings season is underway, it will likely be the dominant market mover, while governments around the world, including our own, try to figure out a way to deal with their respective debt crises. In the U.S., our situation finally took a turn for the better during Tuesday trading, as President Obama embraced a bipartisan proposal to reign in the deficit and help avoid an early August default. Thanks to these easing tensions, the focus will likely continue to be on the slew of earnings reports that will arise, as some of the most popular blue chip firms get ready to announce their most recent fiscal quarter results [see also ETF Insider: A Most Unexpected Rally].

Yesterday, after the bell, technology giant Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) reported their earnings from Q3 2011. The company famous for bringing us household names like the iPod, iPhone, and most recently the iCloud, a new online storage system for music, is known for their innovation in the tech space. Last year, the company surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization as new products continued to propel them to the front lines of consumer discretionary spending. But the company has been in the limelight in 2011 for different reasons, as CEO Steve Jobs took another medical leave of absence early in the year, with many speculating whether or not he intended to return. COO Timothy Cook took the reins of the company, and has kept them on a steady track as they report their most recent quarter without Jobs behind the helm [see also Five ETFs to Look Forward to].

Analyst estimated the company would bring in EPS of $5.80 per share with revenues just under $25 billion. As is typical Apple fashion, the company blew estimates out of the water, hauling in an astonishing EPS of $7.79 and revenues of $28.5 billion. This big jump was largely due to Apple's iPad sales which were up over 180% from a year ago, and the company also crushed its iPhone sales estimates as well. Though it did have lower than expected sales of Macs, many had already forecast this number to miss the mark as Apple readies its new Mac lineup. AAPL promptly jumped 7% in after-hours trading, though the stock trended below the $400 level shortly thereafter [see also AAPL Weighting in QQQ to Be Slashed].

In light of yesterday's after-hours earnings announcement, today's ETF to watch will be the QQQ Trust (Nasdaq: QQQ  ) . This ETF tracks the NASDAQ-100 Index which includes the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Apple ranks as the top holding of the fund, making up over 13% of the product as a whole. Thus far, this fund has gained 1.7% in 2011 while paying out a dividend of about 0.8%. Because Apple makes up such a vital portion of QQQ, its incredibly strong numbers from its most recent quarter will likely lead to a strong trading day for QQQ and the rest of this tech heavy fund.

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Disclosure: Photo courtesy of Matt Yohe. No positions at time of writing.

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