ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Ten-year Treasury yields have retreated over the past couple of days, but the three-month gain for the benchmark U.S. government bond yield is still close to 11%, meaning plenty of rate-sensitive asset classes and sectors are responding.

On the positive end of the rate-sensitive sector spectrum, financial services exchange traded funds, namely regional bank ETFs, have been strutting their stuff. Over the past three months, the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (NYSEArca: KRE) is up 7.6%. The past month has seen KRE, the largest regional bank ETF, climb nearly 6% and this week the ETF has been touching a series of eight-year highs. [Regional Bank ETFs Surge]

Investors looking for other industry ETFs from the financial services universe that display positive correlations to rising interest rates should turn to insurance ETFs, such as the iShares US Insurance ETF (NYSEArca: IAK).

The $118.3 million IAK has tacked on 3.6% over the past 90 days and 2.6% over the past month, performances that are enough to have the insurance ETF ahead of the iShares U.S. Financials ETF (NYSEArca: IYF) over the same periods. Importantly, IAK is also breaking out against the S&P 500 on a relative basis.

“Looks like this gang wants to join other groups that have started to benefit from higher interest rates,” according to Captain John Charts. “Now to the charts, IAK has bullishly broken out on a Relative (vs.& S&P 500) and Absolute basis.”

Even with lower interest rates, insurance companies have been able to manage earnings in solid fashion, providing investors with a fair amount of the financial services sector’s recent earnings surprises. Still, the sensitivity of insurance ETFs and their holdings to Treasury yields will continue to figure prominently in the funds’ near-term performance.

The reason: Insurance companies make profit from spreads between what they owe policyholders and bond yields. The higher the Treasury yield, the better for insurance providers. [Insurance ETFs Wait on Higher Rates]

IAK, which recently celebrated its ninth anniversary, tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Insurance Index (DJSINST). The ETF is home to 63 stocks, but its top 10 holdings combine for over 57% of the fund’s weight. That group includes American International Group (NYSE: AIG), MetLife (NYSE: MET), Prudential (NYSE: PRU), Ace (NYSE: ACE) and Dow component Travelers (NYSE: TRV).

IAK charges 0.43% per year.

IAK vs. S&P 500

Chart Courtesy: Captain John Charts