Just like we did last year, it’s time again to go into the dark closet, get out the crystal ball, dust it off and look inside. What does the exchange traded fund (ETF) industry have in store for us for 2011? And more importantly, will we fare as well with our predictions as we did this year?
1. Small-caps will dust large-caps. Historically, small-caps have outperformed large-caps coming out of economic downturns. That’s been true so far this time around, too. We expect this trend to continue in 2011 as the economic recovery gathers steam.
2. Commodity demand will intensify. Continuing what they started in 2010, commodities will continue to be hot in 2011. A combination of a growing population, a rising emerging market middle class and investment demand will continue to support prices.
3. The Federal Reserve will hike interest rates. Okay, we predicted this one last year and we were a bit early. But this year, as the economy gets better, the Fed will raise rates. If you’re holding long-term bonds, be prepared to act when it happens.
4. The United States is where it’s at. The conventional wisdom has lately held that if you don’t have an allocation overseas, you’re missing something. While emerging markets turned flat in the fourth quarter, the United States gained a fair bit of strength in the last quarter of 2010 that we think will hold in the new year thanks to improving earnings, corporate cash and investor confidence in the domestic economy.
5. Tech ETFs and the NASDAQ will be stars. Once again, the NASDAQ is the year’s top-performing index, gaining 20% this year. But after jumping more than 53% in 2009, this year’s numbers look decidedly lackluster. In 2011, look for technology ETFs to become market stars once again, thanks to an explosion of personal devices and a resumption of corporate IT spending.