The financial services sector, the second-largest in the S&P 500 behind technology, is in the midst of its quarterly earnings avalanche, but the sectors exchange traded funds are still searching for precious momentum in a bid to shed the laggard label.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF), the largest U.S. sector ETF, is up 1% since last Friday when Wells Fargo delivered its quarterly earnings report. California-based Wells Fargo is XLF’s largest at 8.7% of the $18.4 billion ETF’s weight.

Over the past six months, XLF is up 4.4%, showing a significant divergence from the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE). KBE is lower by 1.6% over that period. [Bank ETFs look to Bounce Back]

“Bank stocks, unlike those of insurance companies, asset managers and specialty finance companies, have made little net progress all year,” writes Michael Kahn for Barron’s. “While the path to mediocrity was paved with volatility, the bank ETF is trading where it was in January. Compare this to the Standard & Poor’s 500, which is up close to 8% year-to-date.”

That sentiment underscores important differences between XLF and KBE. Although XLF is often portrayed as a “bank ETF,” the truth is less than 37% of the fund’s weight is allocated to bank stocks. Insurance providers, real estate investment trusts, capital markets firms and diversified financial companies all receive double-digit allocations within the ETF. In fact, only half of XLF’s top-10 holdings have money center banking operations.

The $2.5 billion KBE allocates nearly three-quarters of its weigh to regional banks with scant exposure to asset exposure and no exposure to insurance providers and REITs.

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