The last week of April was a pretty solid one for markets as equities rose broadly throughout the week to finish the month at fresh highs. While a number of earnings reports were key to the positive investor sentiment, arugably the biggest news story of the week came from the Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday. In this meeting, which featured the first ever live news conference immediately afterwards, Bernanke pledged to keep rates low for an "extended period" and that a rate hike wouldn't happen for at least a "couple of meetings." Although the dollar sank on this forecast from the Chairman, it did help to boost commodities to unprecedented heights as gold is now firmly above the $1,500/oz. mark and silver is within striking distance of the $50/oz. level. "Extended period is conditioned on resource slack, on subdued inflation, and on stable inflation expectations," Bernanke said. "Once those conditions are violated or we move away from those conditions, that's the time we need to begin to tighten."
This week, May starts off with a number of earnings reports in a wide variety of industries with companies ranging from Pfizer
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Pharmaceutical Index Fund
Why IHE Will Be in Focus: IHE measures the performance of the pharmaceutical sector of the U.S. equity market. Coming in as IHE's top holding, Pfizer (which makes up 9.5% of IHE) will be reporting earnings this week from their most recent fiscal quarter. Analysts are calling for the pharma giant to announce EPS of $0.59 per share with revenues over $16.5 billion. Though the company has hit their earnings marks for the past four quarters, they are predicted to see sales decline on the year thanks to a quickly drying up product pipeline. Investors will likely hone in on the company's report to see how it plans to deal with this problem, possibly shedding some light on how the rest of the industry plans to face this risk as well. IHE has gained 12.4% on the year, but investors should carefully watch this major earnings report as it will have a significant impact on this ETF [see also ETFs to Play a U.S. Export Boom].
iShares Silver Trust
Why SLV Will Be in Focus: This week saw silver make a climb to price levels not seen for over 30 years. The shiny metal has its sights set on $50 per ounce as it has continued to enjoy strong gains for the majority of 2011. Many analysts and investors are even calling for the metal to break the $50 dollar ceiling, and continue to surge higher, causing investors to chomp at the bit for all things silver. SLV maintains physical exposure to the metal, giving investors safe commodity allocations without all of the issues common to a futures-based fund. SLV has gained an astonishing 55% this year, and should be carefully watched in the coming days for either a continued spike or a rapid fall back to earth.
Guggenheim Solar ETF
Why TAN Will Be in Focus: TAN offers investors exposure to one of the most prominent alternative energies, solar power. This fund seeks to invest its assets in companies involved in numerous sectors of the solar energy space by tracking the MAC Global Solar Energy Index. Among the top holdings of the fund is First Solar
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Disclosure: Jared is long PFE.
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