With the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each falling more than two percent last week, U.S. equities slid to their worst weekly performances since June. The culprits were easy to spot. Reaction, over-exaggerated as it may have been, to the results of the presidential election gave way to fiscal cliff fears. When it was all said and done, Friday's meager gains were not nearly enough to erase the savagery endured on Wednesday and Thursday.
Anxiety is more amplified because November is typically a good month for stocks, but that has not been the case thus far. The longer fiscal cliff fears linger, the likelihood increases that the bulls will be disappointed this month. A downbeat end to November could quell hopes for a Christmas rally and that could portend a bad start to 2013.
Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, it would be wise to simply focus on the week at hand. The following ETFs should prove useful to traders this week.
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund (ITA) The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund and rival aerospace/defense ETFs were highlighted prior to the election as valid post election plays. Problem is the fiscal cliff has aerospace and defense names scare in its sights.
It is worth noting Boeing (BA) was one of the Dow's shining starts last week, but ITA and other aerospace ETFs will need help from more than just one big name to endure the fiscal cliff. To be candid, few ETFs would benefit more from skirting the fiscal cliff than ITA and its rivals. That also means these funds are among the most vulnerable should the fiscal cliff come to pass.
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) Mining ETFs, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF included, are back to seducing investors and how this story ends is anyone's guess. Last week, gold soared amid safe-haven buying. The SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) jumped 3.2 percent while the S&P 500 lost 2.4 percent. GDX was more inline with GLD with a 1.83 percent gain.
Investors looking for gold exposure might be lured on that basis. That much is understandable, but GDX tracks equities, not bullion itself, so caution should be the name of the game here. Precious metal stocks can only endure a faltering equity market for so long before decoupling from the metals they are often linked to.
iShares MSCI Mexico Investable Market Index Fund (EWW) The iShares MSCI Mexico Investable Market Index was as post-election emerging markets play that could really be in focus. That focus does not look appealing now. EWW was flirting with $67 before the election. It closed Friday below $64.
The ETF must hold support in its current neighborhood or risk a return to its 200-day moving average, which is just over $61. If that proves to be firm support, that would be an ideal buy point for investors looking to get involved with an ETF that has performed well for much of 2012. In this moment, EWW's forecast looks cloudy at best.
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