ProShares Files for 3X Leverage of S&P 500

by: IndexUniverse

The world's more recognized investable blue-chip index could be getting triple-leverage coverage for the first time.

ProShares has filed to launch an exchange-traded fund seeking to provide 300% of the daily returns of the S&P 500 index. It's also requesting approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission for a new ETF that would give investors 300% short exposure of the index.

Both would have expense ratios of 0.95% and trade on the NYSE exchange. Earlier this year, ProShares filed to offer 3X leverage with 94 new ETFs. But in that April filing, no mention was made of the S&P 500. (See related story here.)

Currently, ProShares offers the Ultra S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SSO). But that provides 200%, or 2X, the daily returns of its benchmark. It also has the UltraShort S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SDS), which again shoots for a 200% return—except on the inverse side.

Rival Direxion already has a pair of large-cap domestic-focused ETFs with 300% leveraged and inverse exposure. Those are the Daily Large Cap Bull 3x Shares (NYSE: BGU) and the Daily Large Cap Bear 3x Shares (NYSE: BGZ). The difference is that those both track the Russell 1000, a bit broader index than the S&P 500.

But both have performed in a very similar fashion over the longer term, although some slight differences have shown up at times. The SPDRs S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY), for example, had returned in the past five years heading into Wednesday an average annualized -3%. By comparison, the iShares Russell 1000 (NYSE: IWB) was down 2.56% in that same period.

So far this year, SPY is slightly down this year, while IWB has gained more than 1.3%.

More to the point for anyone interested in the ProShares 3X filings, the bullish Direxion BGU has lost more than 14% so far this year, while the bearish has dropped more than 33%.

But as many investors have learned the hard way since they came onto the market last year, 3X leveraged and inverse ETFs don't always march in lockstep with their underlying benchmarks' daily returns.

The subject has been a sore point for many in the industry. (See our latest look at the situation in the blog "What's Wrong With ETFs.")

You can read the prospectuses for both proposed 3X ProShares funds here.

-- This report was submitted by's Murray Coleman.

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