ETF Trends
ETF Trends

As the end of 2012 approaches, the S&P 500 sectors and related exchange traded funds that are performing the best deserve a second look. Here is a run-down of the top three.

“Of the nine sectors in the S&P 500, the two underperforming sectors year-to-date are energy and utilities, which have been off and on for much of 2012. The leaders to the upside are financials and consumer discretionary stocks, both of which are up more than 21%,” Serge Berger for InvestorPlace wrote.

The sectors that performed the best in 2012 are consumer discretionary up 21.8%, the financial sector up 21.2% and healthcare which returned 16%. The Select Sector SPDR Consumer Discretionary (NYSEArca: XLY) ETF is up 21.5%, in line with the overall sectors’ performance. Likewise, the Select Sector SPDR Financial (NYSEArca: XLF) and the Select Sector SPDR Health Care (NYSEArca: XLV) have been top performing ETFs this year. XLV is up 14.2% year-to-date and is just a hair behind the financial ETF XLF. [Sector ETFs for Obama and the Fiscal Cliff]

XLF managed to gain 1.7% last week alone, while the broad market barometer SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) gained 0.2%, reports MoneyShow.

XLY has managed to grow into the largest consumer discretionary ETF by assets, at $3.4 billion, and has been the best-performing sector ETF in 2012. The slight uptick in economic growth and steady stream of consumer spending has supported the performance of this ETF. As a consumer cyclical ETF, XLY has become a top choice among investors and has weathered the drama of an 8% jobless rate, the U.S. Presidential election and government stand-stills. [Consumer Discretionary ETFs in Focus for Holiday Shopping Season]

XLF continues to be a diversified approach to the banking sector, once a sore spot in the stock market, that is currently on the mend. Large institutions such as Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFX) are top holdings and have also reported better earnings. The financial sector in the S&P 500 was able to re-gain strength and the sector as a whole is poised for growth amid increased regulation and lower interest rates, reports Don Lucek for Money and Markets.

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