The market's hot streak in March pushed approximately 78% of the 872 ETFs tracked by Morningstar into positive territory. Virtually all sectors have benefited from this rise; some more than others. Here are four ETFs on fire right now:
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The Market Vectors Steel ETF (NYSE: SLX) surged 12.3% in March. This has been an interesting trend given that steelmakers are bracing themselves for significantly higher iron ore prices. Iron ore is primarily used to make steel, and the world's largest iron ore producer, Vale (Nasdaq: VALE), is set to boost prices 90% in the coming months.
The steelmakers can likely pass a good portion of these hikes on to their customers, but in some cases margins may be pinched. Vale is a top holding of SLX, and many of the companies contained in this ETF mine iron ore, so they will stand to benefit from higher iron ore prices. Companies that are not vertically integrated and do not have iron ore in their portfolios will not be as lucky.
Another ETF that has been gaining momentum over the past four weeks is the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSE: XRT). XRT has advanced 11.6% over this period. On March 29, the Department of Commerce reported that retail spending ticked up slightly in February. This improvement follows a similar move upward in January and indicates that XRT may soon have the wind at its back.
Despite plenty of doubt looming over the future state of the commercial real estate market, the SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (NYSE: RWR) has managed to gain 10.8% over the last four weeks.
Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG), the largest component of RWR, has been looking to capitalize on the adversity its competition has faced. Simon previously made a $10 billion takeover bid for bankrupt mall owner General Growth Properties, and it may be considering an even higher bid as the General Growth sweepstakes has attracted several formidable suitors in recent weeks.
The SPDR KBW Bank ETF (NYSE: KBE) also finished a big month in which it rose 10.6%. The big news out of the sector is that the Treasury Department is readying itself to unwind its position in Citigroup (NYSE: C) in the coming months. Citigroup accounts for 7.3% of KBE's total weight.
The Bottom Line
A rising tide lifts all boats, and the same has held true in the ETF world with strong performances by the equity markets in March. Steel, retail, real estate and the financials were among the big winners in this run-up. As we roll into April, corporate earnings will need to impress for these ETFs to continue on their upward paths. (For more stock analysis, see America's Top Dividend-Paying Stocks.)
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