Nick Perry (Schaeffer's Investment Research) submits: I normally focus on the biggest movers of the past week, but given the light action of the holiday-shorted week, I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a slightly longer-term view and see what groups are leading and lagging over the last month . The graph below shows the biggest movers (from my select list of ETFs) since October 31:
Based on the graph above, it appears that lagging is clearly a relative description because only one group is down this month - software. Other lagging funds, such as energy and utilities are still showing gains.
The action in software is interesting because it seems to buck an overall trend of technology related stocks leading the way. At the top of the list we find internet, semiconductors, networking, and general technology themed funds mixed with transports and materials.
For a longer-term perspective, the bullets below show the year-to-date returns for the ETFs listed above.
Year-to-Date Returns for This Month's Top Performing Sector Exchange Traded Funds:
* Internet HOLDRS (NYSE:HHH) -3.1%
* Semiconductor HOLDRS (NYSEARCA:SMH) +11.9%
* iShares Semiconductor (IGW) +15.0%
* iShares Transport Average (NYSEARCA:IYT) +9.3%
* iShares Networking (NYSEARCA:IGN) +6.0%
* iShares Technology (NYSEARCA:IYW) +5.6%
* Materials Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLB) -0.1%
* iShares Technology Indx (NYSEARCA:IGM) +4.1%
* NASDAQ 100 Trust (QQQQ) +4.5%
* Technology Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLK) +3.6%
Year-to-Date Returns for This Month's Bottom Performing Sector Exchange Traded Funds:
* Health Care Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLV) +2.9%
* Energy Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLE) +37.0%
* Consumer Staples SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLP) +2.4%
* iShares Cons Goods (NYSEARCA:IYK) +0.5%
* iShares Treas Bond (NYSEARCA:TLT) +2.8%
* iShares Utilities (NYSEARCA:IDU) +12.2%
* Utilities Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLU) +13.7%
* Utilities HOLDRS (NYSEARCA:UTH) +16.9%
* Pharmaceutical HOLDRS (NYSEARCA:PPH) -7.5%
* iShares Software Index (NYSEARCA:IGV) -5.0%
One of the things that struck about these figures is that it doesn't appear to follow much of a pattern. In other words, the groups leading over the past few weeks aren't necessarily doing that well for the year. This might imply some rotation is being seen but also fits with a concept I touched on earlier this month.
In that column we saw that technology related groups tended to be where the buyers flocked to off of bottoms. As we head into the final month of the year, this may be where traders continue to focus their energies as they try to chase performance.
Nick Perry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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