Stocks were higher in early trading, looking to potentially snap a six-day losing streak to close the week. The major averages were on track for another losing week. At the start of today‘s session, the Dow and the S&P 500 were down 3.5% and 4.7% so far this week. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 started today’s session 6.4% lower for the week and was just a stone’s throw away from official bear market territory.
“Large deviations from long-term price trends have been used for bubble identification. We find that US equities have been in a bubble based on this metric and are now exiting it,” Citi strategist Dirk Willer said in a note to clients on Thursday. This begs the question – how much further will stocks sink?
Today we’ll discuss a short-term play that allows shareholders to benefit from backslides in the market. While stocks are down nearly 5% this week and 12% this month, our pick for today has gained 4.6% this week and 12.5% this month. It’s impossible to know exactly how far stocks will slip, but armed with this knowledge, you too can benefit from the next decline.
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Traders who are looking to benefit from sliding stocks often turn to short-selling. The main risk of traditional short-selling is that while profit is capped (a stock can only fall to zero), the risk is theoretically unlimited. Of course, other tactics can be used to cover a position at any time, but with a short-selling position, inventors are at risk of receiving margin calls on their trading account if their short position moves against them.
Inverse or “short” ETFs are another option that allows you to profit when a certain investment class declines in value. Some investors use inverse ETFs to profit from market declines, while others use them to hedge their portfolios against falling prices.
Over short periods, you can expect that the inverse ETF will perform “the opposite” of the index, but a disconnect may develop over more extended periods of time. Inverse ETFs will decline as an asset appreciates over time. For that reason, inverse ETFs typically are not seen as good long-term investments. Furthermore, frequent trading often increases fund expenses, and some inverse ETFs have expense ratios of 1% or more.
When approached correctly, inverse ETFs can be excellent day-trading candidates and highly effective short-term hedging tools. There are several inverse ETFs that can be used to profit from declines in broad market indexes, such as the Russell 2000 or the Nasdaq 100. Also, there are inverse ETFs that focus on specific sectors, such as financials, energy, or consumer staples.
With $4 billion in assets, the ProShares Short S&P 500 (SH) is the largest inverse fund by value. Commonly used by investors as a hedging vehicle, the fund strives to deliver the inverse performance of the S&P 500 (SPX). If you’re concerned about the stock market falling, this is the fund that moves in the opposite direction of the largest 500 U.S. corporations and is the simplest way to protect yourself.
It’s important to note that SH is designed to deliver inverse results over a single trading session, with exposure resetting monthly. Investors considering this ETF should understand how that nuance impacts the risk/return profile and realize the potential for “return erosion” in volatile markets. SH should definitely not be found in a long-term, buy-and-hold portfolio. The fund comes along with an expense ratio of 0.9%.
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