Hedge Your Portfolio Against Sell-Off With These ETFs

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Includes: BTAL, FLAG, HTUS, LALT, RALS
by: Zacks Funds

On September 9, Wall Street saw the steepest one-day plunge in months, following the Fed Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren's comments on the possibility of sooner-than-expected Fed policy tightening. Along with the hawkish statement by the Fed official (who is known for his dovish statements), a plunge in oil prices following U.S. producers' increased drilling and a nuclear test by North Korea triggered a panic-driven sell-off.

Stocks around the world were flattened and bonds were crushed. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield rose 13 bps in just two days to 1.67% on September 9, while yield on the six-month U.S. Treasury yield grew 2 bps to 0.51% during the same time frame.

This steepening of the yield curve probably indicates that investors have faith in economic growth despite the dreary job, manufacturing and service sector data for the month of August. In fact, these unspringing data points put off increased speculation over a September hike that emerged last month. But talks were back on the table last week.

Inside the Bloodbath

The massacre was noticed in all the assets - be it risky or a safe haven. Safe haven asset gold lacked luster with the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA:GLD) losing about 0.7% on September 9. The Silver bullion ETF iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) shed over 2.7% on the very day while The United States Oil ETF (NYSEARCA:USO) was off over 3.3% on supply glut concerns.

Out of the U.S. treasury ETFs, the PIMCO 25+ Year Zero Coupon U.S. Treasury Index Exchange-Traded Fund (NYSEARCA:ZROZ), which has added 21.6% in the year-to-date frame (as of September 9, 2016), lost over 2.5% on September 9. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:TLT) is up over 13% so far this year (as of September 9, 2016) but lost over 1.6% on September 9.

Among the equities, the S&P 500 lost about 2.5%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed over 2.1% and the Nasdaq composite plunged over 2.5% on September 9. The knock-on effect of the Wall Street sell-off spread all over the global market, with the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:EEM) slumping about 3.4%, the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEARCA:VGK) falling 2.1%, the iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEARCA:EWJ) shedding about 1.7% and all-world ETF the iShares MSCI ACWI (NASDAQ:ACWI) retreating over 2.3% on September 9.

Where to Find Positive Returns?

In any case, September is not favorable for equity indices. It is historically the worst month of the year for stocks. If this was not enough, both U.S. equities and treasuries appear overvalued at the current level, given the U.S. Treasuries' astounding year-to-date rally and the U.S. indices' recent highs.

In such a scenario, investors may rev up their exposure to alternative routes for positive returns. Below we highlight a few alternative ETFs that may beat the recent blues in the market.

WeatherStorm Forensic Accounting Long-Short ETF (NYSEARCA:FLAG)

The underlying index of the fund seeks to allocate capital to higher quality stocks at lucrative valuations while shorting poor quality stocks offering a less compelling valuation. The fund added about 0.7% on September 9, 2016.

Hull Tactical Fund ETF (NYSEARCA:HTUS)

The fund is actively managed in nature. It intends to achieve long-term growth from investments in the U.S. equity and Treasury markets, irrespective of market conditions. The fund was up over 0.3% on September 9, 2016.

PowerShares Multi-Strategy Alternative Portfolio ETF (NASDAQ:LALT)

This is an actively managed fund that seeks to achieve a positive total return with low correlation to the broader securities markets by investing in a combination of equity securities, financial futures contracts, forward currency contracts and other securities. The fund is up over 0.3% on September 9.

U.S. Market Neutral Anti-Beta Fund (NYSEARCA:BTAL)

Investors who want to shift their focus to investing in low beta stocks during this uncertain market environment can consider adding BTAL to their portfolio. This fund tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Thematic Market Neutral Anti-Beta Index. The index identifies the lowest beta stocks and goes long on them, while at the same time going short on the highest beta stocks. The fund has gained over 0.2% on September 9, 2016.

ProShares RAFI Long/Short (NYSEARCA:RALS)

The fund tracks the FTSE RAFI US 1000 Long/Short Total Return Index, which provides equal dollar allocation to both long and short equity positions. The fund has added about 0.2% on September 9, 2016.

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