ETF Trends
ETF Trends

U.S. sector exchange traded funds continue to move as a herd with the “risk on” and “risk off” trades continuing to dictate the market’s direction.

“All or nothing” days in the S&P 500 spiked along with volatility over the summer. In other words, the blue-chip benchmark saw a high number of days when most stocks were either rising or falling together. [Sector ETFs Continue to Move as a Pack]

“Our monthly review of asset price movements finds that correlations are still way too high for comfort,” wrote ConvergEx Group Chief Market Strategist Nicholas Colas in a note Wednesday. [Risk Trade Drives ETFs, Correlations]

Average U.S. industry sector correlations are 95% and have stood near that elevated level for three months. [Sector ETF Correlations Highest Since Financial Crisis]

Meanwhile, the strategist said the euro and U.S. stocks are moving nearly in lockstep, which highlights how much the Eurozone debt crisis is driving the risk trade.

For diversification purposes, gold, silver and investment grade bonds have been moving independently of U.S. stocks, according to Colas. He observed that high sector correlations and high volatility go hand-in-hand.

“Currency correlations tell an important story this month. Run a correlation on the euro to the S&P 500 based on daily price action and you’ll get 81% as your answer. That is a record for post-Financial Crisis markets, although not a surprising result given the ongoing concerns in the Eurozone,” he wrote.

In U.S. sectors, the strategist said utilities ETFs have the lowest correlation to the S&P 500 at 85%. Utilities ETFs have performed well in 2011 with income-starved investors favoring “safe” dividends. [Dividend ETFs See Performance Diverge on Sector Allocations]

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.