After trading near all-time highs last Wednesday, the rally in the S&P 500 fizzled out in the past couple of sessions amid spiraling woes. This is especially true as resumption of the oil slide and the dollar rally, the Fed meeting this week and Brexit fears renewed worries about the health of the global economy, reversing the positive sentiments.
Tensions on Rise
In particular, the referendum on the U.K.'s membership in the European Union (EU) to be held on June 23 is weighing heavily on the market. The latest poll by the London newspaper The Independent shows that 55% of respondents believe that Britain will leave the EU versus 45% who want to stay in EU. This marks the largest portion of respondents who favor exiting since research firm ORB started conducting a poll on the issue last year. The departure of Britain from the Eurozone will not only impact the British economy but may also shake the global stock markets.
While the Fed is unlikely to raise interest rates this week, it pointed toward a gradual rate increase later in summer months. Additionally, the worst mass shooting in the history of the U.S. that killed 50 people in Orlando, Florida last weekend added to the woes as it could lead to more political conflicts ahead of the November elections.
Given the heightened uncertainty and growing negative sentiments, foreigners are selling the U.S. stocks at the fastest pace ever, as per the Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB). This is a bad sign for the stock market given that when foreigners exit stocks, shares tend to decline.
Adding to the downbeat note are bearish comments from a number of hedge fund managers. Billionaire investor George Soros made a series of "big, bearish investments" on the stocks this week after a long break from trading. Last month, billionaire trader Stanley Druckenmiller warned that "the bull market is exhausting itself."
These events have led to risk-off trading with lower-risk securities including precious metals and bonds. Given this, we have highlighted some ETFs that could definitely reward investors in the current market environment.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX)
While volatility products have been terrible performers over the medium and long terms due to a contangoed market and a steep roll cost, they are intriguing picks during periods of turmoil or uncertainty. That being said, VXX gained 11% in the past couple of days. The note has amassed $1.7 billion in AUM and charges 89 bps in fees per year. The ETN focuses on the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index, which reflects implied volatility in the S&P 500 Index at various points along the volatility forward curve. It provides investors with exposure to a daily rolling long position in the first and second months VIX futures contracts.
SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSEARCA:GLD)
Gold is often viewed as a store of value and a hedge against market turmoil. The product tracking this bullion like GLD could be an interesting pick to play the market turbulence. The fund tracks the price of gold bullion measured in U.S. dollars, and kept in London under the custody of HSBC Bank USA. It is the ultra-popular gold ETF with AUM of $36 billion and expense ratio of 0.40%. The ETF added just 1% in the past couple of sessions.
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:TLT)
The U.S. government bonds tracking the long end of the yield curve often carry a safe haven status. The flight-to-safety on global growth fears led these bonds higher in the past few sessions. As such, the ultra-popular long-term Treasury ETF - TLT - was up 1.1% in the last two days. It tracks the ICE U.S. Treasury 20+ Year Bond Index and has AUM of over $8.1 billion. Expense ratio comes in at 0.15%. Holding 32 securities in its basket, the fund focuses on the top credit rating bonds with average maturity of 26.53 years and effective duration of 17.93 years.
Direxion Daily Total Market Bear 1x Shares ETF (NYSEARCA:TOTS)
For a broad U.S. market play from a bearish perspective, TOTS seems an intriguing choice. This fund provides inverse exposure to the daily performance of the MSCI US Broad Market Index, which comprises of all cap securities. The product is often overlooked by investors as depicted by its AUM of $2.7 million. It charges a low annual fee of 65 bps and has gained 0.9% over the past two days.
ProShares UltraPro Short S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPXU)
Investors with a bearish view on the U.S. stock market with a higher risk appetite could find SPXU interesting as the fund provides three times (3x) inverse exposure to the S&P 500. Though the ETF charges a slightly higher fee of 93 bps per year, it is one of the popular choices with AUM of $816 million. SPXU gained 3.3% over the past couple of days.
Ranger Equity Bear ETF (NYSEARCA:HDGE)
The ETF is actively managed and seeks capital appreciation by taking short positions in a number of U.S. listed companies with low earnings quality or aggressive accounting practices. Additionally, the managers will look to identify earnings driven events that could lead to price declines such as downward earnings revisions or reduced forward guidance - the two factors that can spell trouble for a company. These securities with potentially weak fundamentals will underperform in a crumbling market, thereby resulting in strong profits for the fund. HDGE was up 3.1% in the past two days and has amassed $213.5 million in its asset base. However, it is a bit pricey, charging 2.90% in annual fees.