Catalysts for a 2017 Biotech Bounce

The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NasdaqGM: IBB), SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEArca: XBI) and other biotechnology exchange traded funds were punished last year with election year rhetoric widely seen as the primary catalyst behind the sector’s struggles.

Healthcare stocks and ETFs rallied immediately following Republican Donald Trump’s surprising November victory. The impact of a Trump presidency on healthcare stocks remains to be seen. Candidate Trump rebuked Obamacare and if successful in that effort, there would likely be some effect on diversified healthcare ETFs due to their exposure to health insurance providers.

However, new drug approvals, or lack thereof in 2016, weighed on biotechnology ETFs last year. That could change in 2017.

“The number of drug approvals should continue apace. The drop in approvals in 2016 (36) compared to 2015 (41) was due to timing and not a change in FDA criteria. There could be 13 or more approvals by mid-year,” according to a Rodman & Renshaw note.

During the presidential campaigns, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies like EpiPen allergy shot maker Mylan NV and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International have come under fire over their high drug prices, following Hillary Clinton’s censures.