VIX And More

For the majority of 2008, the three sectors I have already been watching most to gauge the health of the economy are financials (XLF) carefully, homebuilders (XHB), and consumer discretionary stocks and shares (XLY). I have even described these industries as my ‘signal species’ areas, as I am of the opinion that unless all three of these areas are healthy, the health of the broader economy cannot be guaranteed.

In the past two weeks, relative strength all three of the above sectors has helped the broader market indices devote what is a minimum of a provisional bottom. Financials have been the most regularly strong sector, with the XLF financial ETF now 35% above its November 21st low. In the chart below, I’ve attempted to break out the relative performance of various financial sectors over the past 90 days, using four ETF from the financial sector specialist Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW). September 5th The chart goes back to, ten days prior to the Lehman Brothers personal bankruptcy. The baseline ETF (dark series) is KBE, which tracks the KBW bank or investment company index.

The top performer among the other three ETFs is KRE, the KBW local banking index. In comparative terms, of the November low insurance and capital markets appear to have enjoyed the more impressive bounce off. Regional banks, which actually showed small gains in September, have been acting more sluggish lately.

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