Prevailing wisdom suggests that low-volume stock rallies tend to end with a thud. So what should investors make of the fact that the S&P 500 SPDR Trust (SPY) has traded less than the average number of shares for 13 consecutive sessions?
My experience tells me that investors are merely waiting for something ... anything ... to happen. Perhaps it's clearer guidance from corporations on earnings. Or maybe it’s a definitive breakout above the S&P 500’s 2011 highs. Or perhaps it’s an unexpected move by the Fed, a government shutdown and/or a country bailout in the eurozone.
On the other hand, what if volume isn’t quite as anemic as we’re often led to believe? What if trading volume in ”risk off” assets like bond ETFs and currency ETFs were surprisingly robust. Would that make up for the limited shares being traded in “risk on” assets like stock ETFs and commodity ETFs?
Consider the following data:
|Trading Volume Data For Popular Benchmark ETFs|
|Avg Vol (3 mon)||2-Week Avg Vol ($Mil)|
|S&P 500 SPDR Trust (SPY)||167,730||135,850|
|iShares EAFE Index (EFA)||18,150||16,345|
|Vanguard Emerging Market (VWO)||22,025||20,020|
|SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)||14,350||12,395|
|iShares Silver Trust (SLV)||28,520||26,775|
|PowerShares Total Commodity (DBC)||2,400||2,030|
|iShares Barclays Intermediate Credit (CIU)||2,330||2,935|
|iShares Barclays Aggregate Bond (AGG)||743||914|
|CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE)||1,206||2,375|
|CurrencyShares Swiss Franc (FXF)||112||159|
Interestingly enough, trading volume has picked up in bond ETFs and currency ETFs. If investors are less willing to trade shares of their stock and commodity assets, yet more willing to trade shares of their income assets, bets are still being placed; that is, some folks are heading for the exits on their dollar hedging currencies, while others are just now placing their hedges against the U.S. dollar. Similarly, others may be seeking safety in treasuries while others are just now abandoning the low-yielders.
In sum, I don’t think we should be quick to assume that the “risk on” stock/commodity bull is done. Not on low volume, anyway. My “read” is that stockholders and commodity holders are in “wait-n-see” mode. Meanwhile, they’ve shifted their attention toward taking a stand on U.S. treasuries, investment grade corporate credit and foreign currency.
My stand on income assets? Forget iShares Aggregate Bond (AGG) and avoid the CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE). Treasury yields are going to rise and the euro’s run is close to done. Instead, lean toward SPDR Convertible Bonds (CWB), the Swiss Franc (FXF) and WisdomTree Emerging Currencies (CEW).
Disclosure: Gary Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial, Inc, and/or its clients may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds, and/or any investment asset mentioned above. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial, Inc. or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert web site. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships.