Financial services exchange traded funds have been getting ample attention recently and investors mulling the segment would do well to not overlook more tactical ensure ETFs, such as the SPDR S&P Insurance ETF (NYSEArca: KIE).
KIE was one of a small amount of ETFs hitting all-time highs last Friday as the financial services group, the second-largest sector weight in the S&P 500, surged.
Since the insurance industry largely targets the domestic economy, a strengthening U.S. dollar will have a lower impact on the sector. Insurance ETFs, sensitive to Treasury yield gyrations in their own regard, are often responsive to rising bond yields. Among industry ETFs that respond positively to rising Treasury yields, perhaps only regional bank funds have been more desperate for rising rates than insurance ETFs.
A rising rate environment may reflect a strengthening U.S. economy, and a healthier economy would help borrowers have an easier time repaying loans, with banks stuck with fewer non-performing assets.
Moreover, rising rates means that banks will generate greater revenue from the spread between what they pay deposit savers and the prime rates they charge credit-worthy clients and other highly-rated debt.
Among industry ETFs that respond positively to rising Treasury yields, perhaps only regional bank funds have been more desperate for rising rates than insurance ETFs.
Competitors to KIE include the iShares US Insurance ETF (NYSEArca: IAK), PowerShares KBW Property & Casualty Insurance Portfolio (NYSEArca: KBWP) and PowerShares KBW Insurance Portfolio (NYSEArca: KBWI).