Down 5.4% year-to-date, the Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLB) is already one of the worst performers among the nine sector SPDR exchange traded funds.

However, XLB and rival materials funds have given up gains notched earlier this year and witnessed accelerating losses in recent months. For example, XLB’s six-month loss is more than double its year-to-date swoon.

Rising Treasury yields, a sign that the Federal Reserve could be close to finally raising borrowing costs and that is good news for cyclical sectors. The technology, industrial and materials companies are among cyclical sectors that typically strengthen in a rising rate environment as investors turn away from safer assets and shift into riskier areas of the market. [Materials ETFs in Rally Mode]

But late-cycle ebullience has retired as investors have grown wary of sluggish materials and industrial ETFs. Now, some technical analysts see more downside brewing for XLB and the materials sector.

“As you can see XLB is testing dual support right now and it is below its 200 Day moving average.

Even though this sector has been weak of late and this year, if dual support gives way, selling pressure could ramp up. Humbly I feel what materials do from here matters from a micro and big picture perspective. What could do well if XLB breaks support? Bonds could be a beneficiary should it happen,” notes Chris Kimble of Kimble Charting Solutions.

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