5 ETFs to Watch This Week
Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF)
Earnings season will get underway on Tuesday when aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) steps up to the plate. Throughout the opening months of 2012, global macroeconomic factors have dominated discussions. In the coming weeks, however, some of this attention should shift to the various companies slated to release their performance numbers and outlooks.
The financial sector will be of particular interest this week. Both JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) are on tap for Friday. These two behemoths top off a number of financial sector ETFs. In XLF, for instance, the duo account for a nearly 20% slice of its assets.
iShares Gold Trust (IAU)
Precious metals were sucker punched last week following the release of the Federal Reserve's hawkish FOMC minutes. Thanks to a multi-day string of losses, the bullion-backed IAU descended to levels last seen in January.
Gold has endured a rough start to the year. Unfortunately, with hopes for a new round of quantitative easing fading, the near-term forecast for the metal are not entirely optimistic. Gold miners have fared poorly as well. Heavy losses have pushed the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) to new 2012 lows. During the coming days, it will be interesting to see if the commodity and gold producers can find some footing. In the meantime, use caution here.
CurrencyShares Swiss Franc Trust (FXF)
Although it was a wildly popular topic during the summer months of 2011, the Swiss franc has faded from discussion following the decision by the Swiss National Bank to corral its strength.
In the coming week, however, this currency player and FXF may find itself back in the headlines as the tumbling euro has sent the Swissie higher. Late last week, investors learned that the EUR/CHF was testing the 1.20 level set by the SNB in September.
A representative for the SNB has reiterated the central bank's intention to keep the exchange rate above CHF 1.20, so looking ahead, it will be interesting to see what reaction is in store for this corner of the currency market.
iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI)
From an economic data perspective, Thursday will be a busy one for China investors. In addition to a GDP reading, industrial production and retail sales numbers will also be released. China has exhibited signs of a slowdown in recent weeks, so this data will certainly be worth watching.
As I explained last week, FXI may be a better bet for those risk-tolerant investors looking to try their luck with China, at this time. Analysts have found that the nation's large, state-owned companies have held up better than smaller, private players during this recent period of tumult. FXI boasts ample exposure to companies hailing from the former.