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Sector ETF Analysis: 9 Sectors - 1 Message: Watch Important Technical Support
By, Simon Maierhofer
Friday October 26, 2012
The S&P 500 Index is generally sub-divided into nine sectors. How the leading (or lagging) sectors behave can provide valuable forecasting insight. This article takes a look at the three leading year-to-date performers and their technical message.

The S&P 500 Index and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) are made up of ten industry sectors. State Street Global Advisors subdivides the S&P into nine popular ETFs, called Select Sector SPDRs.

There are ten sectors, but they are condensed into nine ETFs as the technology and telecommunication sector are represented by the same ETF, XLK.

The first graph below provides a visual of the S&P 500 sectors and the sector allocation for the Select Sector SPDRs.

The second graph shows the year-to-date performance of each sector.

Each sector corresponds differently to economic developments and some sectors may boom while others bust. That at least used to be the case. During the 2000 decline about half of the sectors delivered positive returns, the remaining ones negative returns.

Since the beginning of the QE market, most sectors are up, just at a different pace.

Right now, most sectors are just above technical support and are sending the same technical message: Watch out how each sector performs around support. If support fails … watch out.

Let’s look at the technical picture of the three biggest and best performing sectors individually:

Technology:

The technology sector got hit hard in recent weeks. Nevertheless, as of Thursday’s close the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) is up 22.48% year-to-date.

The technical picture for XLK looks plain ugly. XLK dropped through trend line support going back to the October 2011 lows (at 29.65) and the 200-day SMA at 29.19.

The technical picture for the Nasdaq-100 looks similar. December 30, 2011 was the last time the Nasdaq-100 closed below the 200-day SMA. It’s been trading above the 200-day SMA for more than 200.

Here’s a surprising factoid: Since 1990 the Nasdaq-100 had seven streaks of trading above the 200-day SMA for more than 200 days. The first close below the 200-day SMA was bearish only one time.

Owners of Rydex funds have grown very skeptical of the technology sector. The percentage of assets invested into Rydex technology funds has dropped to an all time low.

On August 5, the Profit Radar Report pointed out a similar extreme in the financial sector: “Financials are currently under loved (who can blame investors). Of the $900 million invested in Rydex sector funds, only $18 million (2%) are allocated to financials. With such negative sentiment a technical breakout (close above 14.90) could cause a quick spike in prices.”

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) rallied as much as 10% after it broke above 14.90.

Even though the technical picture of the technology sector looks quite bearish, there’s reason to believe that the down side is limited. A bullish opportunity may develop soon.

Financials:

The financial sector, represented by the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), is holding up much better than the overall market. The chart for XLF is a bit more decorated with trend lines as the Profit Radar Report has provided updates for XLF since it’s August 6 break out.

Immediate trend line support for XLF is at 15.65. The 50-day SMA is at 15.68. Immediate resistance is at 16.05. Aside from a break of the minor red trend line support, the recent decline hasn’t done any technical damage to the financial sector.

Consumer Discretionary

The Health Care (XLV) and Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) are slightly bigger than the Consumer Discretionary SPDR (XLY), but XLY outperformed XLV and XLE.

XLY is just barely holding on to its position above the trend line from the October 2011 low (at 45.60), but the 200-day SMA is not until 44.27. Support based on prior supply/demand inflection points is around 45.

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