On Tuesday, 5/1/2012, CNBC trumpeted the Dow’s highest close since December of 2007. On Wednesday, the media giant celebrated the price-weighted index’s ability to shrug off weaker-than-anticipated employment data in the United States.
There are reasons to be pleased with the progress of U.S. stocks in 2012. My clients continue to benefit from exposure to risk assets like Vanguard High Dividend Yield (VYM), Vanguard Dividend Growth (VIG) and Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ).
Still, little attention has been paid to the 52-week highs reached by non-stock ETFs. For example, SPDR Barclays Intermediate Corporate Bond (ITR) and iPath 10-Year Treasury Bull ETN (DTYL) both hit new 52-week highs as 10-year yields dipped to a paltry 1.92%.
Recently, I opined that it may not matter why intermediate bond ETFs are so popular. Determining whether investors are following the Fed’s lead with ”Operation Twist” or whether they are fearful of Europe’s debt crisis may not be as crucial as benefiting from the profitable trend itself. However, I do believe an investor ignores Europe at his/her own peril.
Consider the reality that European banks are demonstrating reservations about lending to one another again. Specifically, three-month LIBOR rates have effectively flatlined over the past eight weeks. And some folks have been increasing their hedge positions with PowerShares DB 3x German Bund Futures (BUNT).
European stock ETFs have floundered since three-month LIBOR went flat. Most notably, Spain via iShares MSCI Spain (EWP) has given up a bearish -20% since mid-March. (Note: Readers may recall my suggestion for aggressive traders to consider shorting EWP in my 3/16/2012 commentary.)
Some have expressed that policymakers worldwide have the means and wherewithal to tackle the European dilemma. They explain that impressive corporate earnings and muddle-through macro-economic growth will push stocks to remarkable bull market heights by year’s end. Perhaps.
In the meantime, however, Spain’s (EWP) fresh 52-week lows may have near-term predictive value. For one thing, EWP is likely telling us that U.S. intermediate-term treasury yields may not get too far above 2% this summer. Secondly, there’s only so much pain in Spain that the U.S. stock market can shake off.
It follows that higher-yielding ETFs may represent a sweet spot. In fact, with yield spreads as wide as they are, scores of high-yielders sit on the “52-Week High List.” I like PowerShares Insured National Muni (PZA), JPMorgan Emerging Market Bond (EMB) and iShares High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG).
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.