Sure the news has not been very positive recently, with the biggest headline perhaps being the brokerage houses eliminating commissions on retail stock trading (the percentage of revenues that the likes of AMTD ETFC and SCHW had been in steady decline for years). But the XLF has been the best performing major S&P sector over the last one week period, and it was strong again on Thursday rising 1%, outdone just by energy (questionable leadership). But pure play market participants in the group may be hoping tomorrow ends with a whimper, which would have the ETF on its third four week losing streak of 2019 thus far. When that happened in May, the fund responded with a 6 of 8 week winning streak beginning with a 4.3% jump the week ending 6/7. It occurred again in August and the ETF again found firm footing rising nearly 9% the 3 weeks ending between 8/30-9/13.
We know the XLF has been a relatively weak group compared to its major S&P sector peers. But against its cousin in the regional banks, it looks strong. After some brief underperformance against the KRE in late July and early September, the ratio chart always seemed to find a bid in favor of the XLF. The XLF trades just 5% off its most recent 52 week high, while the KRE is now 15% off its most recent yearly peak. The KRE has seemed to garner some support at the very round 50 number this year, with the exception of the month of August. It does trade wide and loose, and has been making lower highs since February. Top components in the KRE such as FRC and MTB feel heavy, add to it CMA more than 30% off its highs, and one gets the sense they should deposit capital into XLF related names, pun intended.
The asset manager names have acted in a bifurcated manner this year. Stocks like EVR are now 25% off most recent 52 week highs. IVZ and WETF are even worse as they trade 32 and 44% off their most respective yearly peaks. On the positive side names like SEIC, which is lower by just 5% from its recent highs. Another good candidate is the chart below of APO and how it appeared in our 9/26 Financial Note. It had formed a nice bull flag pattern as one can see, but it also shows the importance of waiting for PRICE confirmation, as the 41 number was never taken out on a CLOSING basis. Currently it is on a 4 week losing streak, but just 7% off recent highs thanks to this week which has risen 3.4% so far heading into Friday.