ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLY), the largest exchange traded fund tracking the consumer discretionary sector, is higher by about 5% year-to-date and some market observers believe it is time to shift to consumer cyclical stocks.

As the market moves toward the late stages of the business cycle, consumer discretionary stocks and sector-related exchange traded funds could underperform other market segments. However, it is clear XLY is rebuffing that idea this year. XLY holds 85 stocks and tracks the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector Index.

“That said, Ned Davis Research Group is showing a slight preference to consumer discretionary over energy. The firm moved 200 basis points—or 0.02 percentage points—of its sector allocation out of energy stocks into consumer discretionary as part of an earlier short-term call,” reports Crystal Kim for Barron’s.

While retailers just experienced one of their best holiday sales periods in years, strong overall sales growth of over 5% was still dwarfed by a 20% jump in online sales, reflecting the ongoing shift in consumer habits to e-commerce. Looking ahead, retail disruption and performance challenges for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are likely to continue.

XLY allocates nearly 29% of its weight to Internet and direct marketing retailers. That includes a 20.5% weight to Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). Rising incomes and consumer spending could continue propelling XLY and other consumer discretionary ETFs.

“Consumer spending in January rose a scant 0.2% as Americans cut back after the holidays. And spending fell for the first time in a year if adjusted for inflation, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.3% increase in spending,” reports MarketWatch.

Rivals to XLY include the Vanguard Consumer Discretionary (NYSEArca: VCR) and Fidelity MSCI Consumer Discretionary Index (NYSEArca: FDIS).

For more information on the consumer sector, visit our consumer discretionary category.