The U.S. dollar has been shining bright in recent months. A 6.6% third-quarter gain for the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (NYSEArca: UUP), the U.S. Dollar Index tracking ETF, confirms as much.
On a downbeat note, periods of shine for the dollar can remove some of the luster from sectors that benefit from a weaker greenback. The good news is that when dollar rallies give way to pullbacks, weak dollar sector plays often follow dollar retrenchment with impressive out-performance.
“Since 1971, there have been 20 quarters in which the U.S. dollar has seen a drop of at least 5 percent,” Bespoke Investment Group’s Paul Hickey told CNBC earlier this week. “In the quarters following, three sectors have historically rebounded: Materials, industrials and energy.”
Because commodities, including oil, are denominated in U.S. dollars, sector exchange trade funds such as the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) make for predictable beneficiaries of weak dollar environments. Investors have been reminded of that fact again this year.
As UUP has surged this quarter, XLE, the largest equity-based energy ETF, has tumbled 9.4%. While XLE makes for an obvious weak dollar play, investors should not avoid the ETF if interest rates rise. If past history repeats, they will want to embrace XLE. During the last Federal Reserve rate tightening cycle in 2004 through 2006, XLE was the standout among the nine sector SPDR ETFs, soaring nearly 122% over that period. [Best Sector Ideas for Rising Rates]