The world’s major stock markets and clean energy indices were mostly down this week as Americans headed into the Memorial Day long weekend. The only exception was the EnergyBoom Biofuel Subindex (E•B Biofuel) which increased 1% for the week.
It was another underwhelming week for the stock markets, with the broad markets and broad clean energy indices all losing ground over the five days.
The only strongly positive clean energy sector was wind power and technology, with the EnergyBoom Wind Subindex (E•B Wind) increasing 1.35% and the First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF (FAN) climbing 0.90%. Biggest loser was the solar power and technology sector, with the EnergyBoom Solar Subindex (E•B Solar) falling 7.34% and the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) dropping 6.27%.
The broad stock market indices all had lacklustre weeks, apparently bothered by ongoing worries about the Greek economy and a meeting of Euro-zone finance ministers scheduled for Monday. Nevertheless, the broader markets managed to outperform the clean energy and energy efficiency indices this week, with the biggest exception being the EnergyBoom Biofuel Subindex (E•B Biofuel) which ended the week up 2.48%.
It was a strong week for the broad stock markets and an even stronger week for clean tech sectors, capped off with a bonanza for shareholders of San Jose, California-based solar panel company SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWRA). SunPower and French oil multinational Total S.A. (NYSE: TOT) announced late Thursday that Total was buying 60% of SunPower for approximately $1.4 billion at $23.25 per share -- lifting the stock to close today at $21.69 per share, 34.5% higher than Thursday’s close and up 36% for the week.
The broad stock market monitors roared back during this four-day trading week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting its highest level (+1.23% to 12,506) since June 2008. Clean energy and energy efficiency companies turned in mixed performances, led by the EnergyBoom Efficiency Subindex (+1.34%) and Guggenheim S&P Global Water (+1.36%).
U.S. stock markets stalled this week as investors worried about a potential federal government shutdown and world oil prices that crept up past $112 per barrel (April-dated light sweet crude futures). Overseas, markets were stronger, with the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong leading with a 5.34% gain for the week.
Most clean energy sectors underperformed the broad stock markets, with wind power and solar power technology companies falling the most. The EnergyBoom Wind Subindex (E•B Wind) fell 4.82%, while the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) declined 3.03%.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami off Sendai, Japan -- and the resulting nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- transformed a strong performance for Q1 equities markets into a gangbusters performance. Renewable energy stocks -- especially wind and solar power companies -- were huge beneficiaries of investors betting that these sectors will fill the void created by a flight from nuclear.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rebounded to close up 5.7% Wednesday, as hedge funds rushed to cover short positions after the worst two-day fall since the great crash of 1987. Western markets were down today as they learned that a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have ruptured and vented radioactive steam.
The Japanese nuclear nightmare prompted more selling on the world’s stock markets today, after the Nikkei 225 index on the Tokyo exchange closed down 10.56% today (Tuesday). In Germany, the government announced today it will shut down seven of the country's oldest nuclear reactors for three months as part of a safety review.