An exchange traded fund tracking the retail sector is among the industry-specific ETFs that have seen bearish put activity recently in options markets.

This options activity in SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT) is interesting given the fact that XRT has seen extremely strong inflows in the past several days on heavy trading volume.

Over $300 million has entered the fund, which is more than 60% of the total assets outstanding in the ETF in the past few sessions via creations, so it is rather difficult to discern exactly what is going on in the ETF given that the put buying and asset inflows in the ETF itself have seemingly contrasting motives.

In any case, the pick-up in activity in this sector ETF brings to light a number of different approaches to the Retail sector via equity ETFs.

XRT remains the giant in the space in terms of assets, with just shy of $900 million in assets. XRT employs an equal weighted strategy across the spectrum of U.S. listed retail equities. XRT is followed by a familiar ticker symbol, Market Vectors Retail (NYSEArca: RTH).

RTH most in the industry know as a former Merrill Lynch HOLDR product, which for years was terribly nondiversified and had a huge weighting in WMT. WMT is still the largest holding in the fund, at 11.15%, but the product tracks a sensible index that invests in 25 of the largest publicly traded U.S. retail equities and is no longer the antiquated product that the Merrill Lynch HOLDR product had once become.

Still, PowerShared Dynamic Retail (NYSEArca: PMR) employs a proprietary fundamental/quantitative screening approach in determining names and specific weightings within the index that the ETF tracks.

In addition to options being available in these individual ETF names, two leveraged ETFs also exist which likely carry appeal for those looking to engage in short term bullish or bearish trading strategies and/or hedging strategies.

Direxion Daily Retail Bear 3X (NYSEArca: RETS) and Direxion Daily Retail Bull 3X (NYSEArca: RETL) deliver 3 times the daily leveraged returns to the Russell 1000 Retail Index from both the bear and bull sides, respectively.


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