Not-So-Great Expectations for Industrial ETFs

The Industrial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLI) is down just 1.6% year-to-date, but that is good for one of the more middling performances among the sector SPDR exchange traded funds. With the U.S. dollar gaining strength, it is becoming harder to get excited about the industrial sector.

XLI has been stymied on multiple fronts. In no particular order, tumbling oil prices have pinched demand for oil services provided by some large- and mega-cap industrial names, such as Dow component General Electric (NYSE: GE), also XLI’s largest holding.

On a related note, slack commodities demand has been a drain railroad operators, an industry group that accounts for nearly 10% of XLI’s weight. And in a perversion of historical trends, airline stocks have not been responsive to oil’s slump and that industry is 5% of XLI’s weight. The good news is that airlines have popped over the past month, but XLI is going to need more help. [Airline ETF Ready to Soar]

A strong U.S. dollar and declining energy sector capital spending are among the issue plaguing industrial ETFs this year. U.S. manufacturing, which makes up 12% of the economy, could remain weak on the lingering effects of the dollar and fuel costs. [Industrial ETFs Could Also Slip On Oil]