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Weekly ETF Report: Where is the Santa Claus Rally?

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 Fabian's Weekly ETF Report |  |  Weekly ETF Report  |  Successful ETF Investing 12/11/2015
In This Issue:
  • Podcasts
  • Where is the Santa Claus Rally?
  • ETF Talk: This Fund Could Give Investors Utility
  • The Best ETF Ideas for 2016
  • On Bankers and Failure
By: Doug Fabian | Editor, Successful ETF Investing | President, Fabian Wealth Strategies
Where is the Santa Claus Rally?
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About this time each year, the markets are historically treated to a visit from that corpulent bull, Santa Claus.

Yet the proverbial Santa Claus rally has yet to materialize on Wall Street this year. And though the narrower, official definition of a Santa Claus rally consists of the last five trading days in December and the first two trading days of January, the wider, more general use of the term is the period beginning immediately after Black Friday through early January.

While we still have time for a bullish Santa to make an appearance, so far in December he has yet to arrive. And given that the S&P 500 is down about 1.8% month to date, the markets are in need of a good dose of jolly old St. Nicholas.

Yet in order to clear a path for a Santa Claus rally, the markets will have to clear two big hurdles.

The first is the precipitous decline in oil prices. News of a massive oversupply situation in the oil patch that’s driven prices down to multi-year lows shouldn’t be a surprise. Now, however, stocks are starting to really feel the negative effects of this situation.


Earlier this week, stocks traded in near-lockstep with oil. As oil prices slid, so too did the value of stocks. Given that oil prices are likely to remain in the cellar for some time due to increased supply and thin global demand, we will want to see a decoupling of sorts between oil prices and equity prices. Until that happens, Santa will have a hard time paying us a visit.

The other big hurdle preventing Santa from handing out presents so far this year is the price of high-yield debt, a.k.a. junk bonds.


One glance at the value of high-yield debt here in the benchmark ETF, SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (JNK), will tell you all you need to know about how the market is turning away from risk assets.

As speculative capital moves away from high-yield debt, many professional traders and money managers are getting nervous about risk assets in general. Of course, the fall in oil prices, as well as the general slump in commodity prices, also has fueled the decline in high-yield debt, as much of that debt is related to energy company exposure.

Finally, there is the hurdle of the Federal Reserve and its impending decision on interest rates.

The smart money is betting on the first rate hike in nearly 10 years when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announces its decision on Wednesday (there’s an 80% chance according to Fed Fund futures).

I am of the opinion the Fed will indeed hike the Fed Funds rate by 25 basis points, and I think that will be a good thing for markets. Not only will it represent a vote of confidence in the strength in the economy, it also will eliminate a lot of the uncertainty that’s been wafting around this issue since the spring of this year.

By this time next week, we’ll know what the Fed did -- and what the early reaction of the market was to the decision. If things go as the market anticipates, we may finally see Santa Claus make that bullish appearance.

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ETF Talk: This Fund Could Give Investors Utility

Last but not least in our series on the sector-specific exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offered by SPDR is SPDR Select Sector Utilities ETF (XLU). The utilities sector of the S&P 500, where this fund focuses, includes companies involved in electric utilities, gas utilities, energy traders and similar businesses.

View the current price, volume, performance and top 10 holdings of XLU at

More than most industries, utility companies tend to carry large debt loads. As a result, interest rates impact them more heavily. Due partly to this situation, the sector has experienced some turmoil this year. XLU also may experience more ups and downs than other sector funds due to investing in fewer companies.

So far this year, XLU has underperformed the S&P 500 greatly as fears of a Fed rate hike likely hurt investor sentiment towards utilities. The fund is down 9.76% in 2015. It does, however, pay a higher yield, 3.5%, than most sector funds and it has about the same low expense ratio, 0.14%, as its peers. XLU has about $5.6 billion in assets under management.


This fund invests 59.8% of its assets in its top 10 holdings, making it less diversified than many other ETFs. The largest holdings are NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), 8.78%; Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), 8.34%; Southern Co. (SOJA), 7.90%; Dominion Resources Inc. (D), 7.52%; and American Electric Power Company Inc. (AEP), 5.29%.

People always will spend money on utilities. When that stability is again reflected by investment in the utilities sector, SPDR Select Sector Utilities ETF (XLU) may be worth a look.

I’ll highlight another fund for your consideration next week.

Remember to look for the current price, volume, performance and top 10 holdings of XLU at

If you want my advice about buying and selling specific ETFs, including appropriate exit points, please consider subscribing to my Successful ETF Investing newsletter.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an e-mail. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

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The Best ETF Ideas for 2016

During the past few weeks, we’ve covered what I think are the best exchange-traded fund (ETF) ideas for 2016 for growth investors and income investors.

Here’s a quick review of all 10 ETFs on our list.

Growth ETFs

1) Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV). Healthcare is an industry that continues benefitting from demographics, innovation, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and insurance mandates. XLV is the ETF that holds the biggest and best healthcare stocks around.

2) First Trust Dorsey Wright Focus 5 ETF (FV). This is a “fund of funds” that simultaneously holds other funds that have allocations to top-performing sectors. Biotech, Internet, consumer staples, consumer discretionary and healthcare all are part of this fund.

3) PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK). This is the cybersecurity stock ETF, one that we’ve written about extensively in this publication, as well as in the Successful ETF Investing newsletter. We also recently conducted a FREE webinar on HACK, which I encourage you to check out before you start making investment decisions in 2016.

4) iShares India 50 ETF (INDY). India is a country that has a pro-capitalist political climate, a huge amount of human capital and citizens hungry for economic growth and an enhanced living standard. INDY is a way to get exposure to the companies benefitting most from these trends.

5) WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ). Japan continues to put the pedal to the metal on “Abenomics,” which means more quantitative easing from the Bank of Japan and likely more upside for Japanese stocks. And, with DXJ’s hedge component, you get that performance without the negative influence of any currency disparities.

Income ETFs

1) SPDR DoubleLine Total Return Tactical ETF (TOTL). This bond fund is actively managed by the “New Bond King,” Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital, and it takes advantage of the best bonds in the market. The fund invests across global fixed-income sectors with an eye toward shorter-duration bonds.

2) iShares US Preferred Stock (PFF). This fund gives you exposure to the best preferred stocks in the market. These hybrid securities are sort of like stocks and sort of like bonds, as they tend to move higher with the equity markets while also delivering strong yields.

3) PowerShares CEF Income Composite ETF (PCEF). This ETF “fund of funds” gives you exposure to the closed-end fund market. That market consistently has delivered outstanding yields for income-oriented investors.

4) iShares US Real Estate ETF (IYR). Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a fantastic tool for generating yield. In this fund of funds, you get broad-based exposure to the best REITs operating in the market today.

5) iShares Select Dividend ETF (DVY). This is the best ETF for exposure to the biggest and arguably the best dividend-paying stocks in the market today. DVY gives you a very solid yield along with the upside potential of the broader equity markets.

If you want more ideas, including which funds we’re buying right now, then I invite you to check out my Successful ETF Investing newsletter today!

On Bankers and Failure

“If you are afraid to fail, then you should go and become a banker.”

-- Yossi Vardi

Considering the Federal Reserve is the ultimate central bank, and given the looming decision by the FOMC next week, I think it’s important to keep in mind what businessman Yossi Vardi says about bankers. Whatever the Fed decides next week, we’ll all have to adjust to the circumstances accordingly.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my audio podcast, newsletters, seminars or anything else. Ask Doug.

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about why a strong jobs report signified good news for investors. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below my Eagle Daily Investor commentary.

All the best,
Doug Fabian
Doug Fabian
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