Exchange traded funds such as the PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (NYSEArca: SPLV) prove that investors like funds that damp volatility. With concern still prominent that interest rates will rise this year, advisors and investors are looking for ways to protect against higher rates.
The PowerShares ex- Rate Sensitive Low Volatility Portfolio (NYSEArca: XRLV) gives investors the ability to combine the low volatility and hedging rising rates themes. Said another way, XRLV is the SPLV of hedging against rising interest rates.
XRLV is just a month old and has accumulated nearly $29 million in assets. The new ETF tracks the S&P 500 Low Volatility Rate Response Index. The Index is composed of the 100 constituents of S&P 500 Index that exhibit both low volatility and low interest rate risk,” according to PowerShares.
“We believe the current risks in the global market landscape support the need for continued risk mitigation and low volatility investing — but investors also need to keep an eye on interest rate risk. Historically, the combination of rising volatility and interest rates has had an adverse effect on equity prices. Since 1990, during periods when the CBOE VIX Index (an indicator of market volatility) rose 75% or more and the 10-year Treasury yield also increased, the price of the S&P 500 Index declined 80% of the time by an annualized average of 30.4%,” according to a PowerShares research note.
Like SPLV, XRLV is heavily weighted to financial services stocks. The sector is the largest in both ETFs, commanding 35.2% of XRLV’s weight. What is notable about XRLV’s financial services holdings are either insurance providers or regional banks, the very sub-sectors of the financial services group that usually perform well when rates rise. [Rising Yields Lift Insurance ETFs]
However, XRLV’s sector allocations should insulate the ETF from the potentially adverse impacts of a Federal Reserve rate hike. [An ETF Play on two big Themes]