By: The ETF Professor
U.S. stocks snapped a multi-week losing streak last week, but considerable uncertainty remains regarding when the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its $85 billion-per-month quantitative easing program.
Markets hate uncertainty, but got a heaping dose of it last week when minutes from the FOMC July meeting revealed something of a consensus for tapering, but little in the way of agreement regarding when tapering should start.
At best, the Fed's inability to make a firm announcement about when its bond-buying efforts will be tapered is curious. At worst, it is bad news for stocks heading into September, usually the worst month of the year for equities.
We all know tapering is coming, but few know exactly when. Rather than trying to figure out when the Fed will illuminate the world as to the start of tapering, focus on these ETFs this week instead.
Market Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH)
Finally, Amgen (AMGN) has completed a deal for cancer therapies maker Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX). The $10.4 billion values Onyx at $125 a share, not too far above the nearly $117 Onyx shares closed at last Friday. The price tag may not be exactly what Onyx was hoping for, but the deal reaffirms the notion that mergers and acquisitions activity is alive well in the biotech space.
All biotech ETFs have been spectacular performers on a year-to-date basis, but the Market Vectors Biotech ETF makes the list because it offers the largest combined weight to Amgen and Onyx at 15.4 percent. BBH's 5.4 percent to the Onyx is the largest among major biotech ETFs. BBH is also the best-performing fund among the four largest biotech ETFs this year.
PowerShares Global Short Term High Yield Bond Portfolio (PGHY)
The newly minted PowerShares Global Short Term High Yield Bond Portfolio (June 20 debut) makes this week's list because it is an alluring prospect for those looking for fixed income exposure in an otherwise tumultuous time in the bond market.
PGHY's debut data might imply plenty of struggles as the ETF came to market in the midst of soaring U.S. Treasury yields and amplified tapering chatter. Neither of those scenarios has dissipated. Still, PGHY is up 1.72 percent since its debut, a performance that is better than marquee U.S. high-yield bond ETFs, long-dated Treasury funds and emerging markets bond ETFs.
Underscoring how impressive PGHY's sturdiness has been are the following facts. First, half of the ETF's top-10 country weights are emerging markets. Second, 75 percent of PGHY's holdings are rated BB or B, according to PowerShares data.
iShares MSCI China ETF (MCHI)
Almost lost in the recent negativity surrounding surrounding India and Indonesia ETFs is that some large China funds are doing quite well. Over the past 60 days, the iShares MSCI China ETF is up 14.1 percent, a performance that slightly lags the more popular iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI).
So why put the spotlight on MCHI and not FXI? Three reasons. MCHI has the lower weight to financial services stocks, the albeit slightly larger weight to the technology sector and because it has a tradition of outpacing FXI over longer time frames.