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Global Growth Worries Loom: ETFs to Play

It seems that the comfort level in the broader market has started to fade again in May and the woes of Q1 are back. Global growth worries once again flared up with the latest U.S. and China manufacturing data failing to pick up momentum (the numbers just expanded not accelerated) and a slew of downbeat releases from the U.S. Added to this, Markit’s manufacturing PMI showed that factory output in the U.K. declined to the lowest level in three years in April.

In any case, China has been at the root of the global market turmoil since mid 2015. Many U.S. companies generate a considerable portion of their earnings from the world’s second-largest economy. If this was not enough, China is one of major consumers of industrial metals globally and thus invariably pulls the strings of the commodity market.

Even billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn recently noted that it is China that caused him to exit the "great company" Apple Inc. (AAPL). Notably, Icahn finds Apple’s relationship uncertain with China, where its revenues plummeted around 26% year over year in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 (read: What to Do With Apple ETFs After Icahn Has Left?).

Fears of global growth issues and deflationary threats were sparked off as the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed its official cash rate by 25 basis points to a historic low of 1.75% to do away with deflationary risks.  

Confirming growth issues, the IMF reduced its global growth estimate to 3.2% for this year in April. The latest numbers show a reduction of 0.2% from what it projected in January and a cut of 0.4% from the October forecast. Not only this, IMF raised caution on ‘severe headwinds’ in Asia. IMF projected “that each percentage point change in China’s growth would lower growth in the rest of the region by 0.15–0.30 of a percentage point.”

Making matters worse, Carl Icahn expressed concerns over the U.S. markets and indicated that the Fed’s dovishness is possibly forming "tremendous bubbles”. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is expected to post an 8% decline in earnings on 1% decline in revenues, as per the Zacks Earnings Trends issued on April 27, 2016. Top and bottom lines are expected to stay subdued even in the second quarter. As of now, the forecast is 5.1% earnings decline on 0.8% lower revenues.

All in all, investors should be prepared for a muted May as the risk appetite is likely to have gone. So, investors need to be cautious while exposing themselves to the investing world. Below we highlight a few ETFs that could earn you decent returns even in the cursed month of May (read: 4 ETF Strategies that Deny "Sell in May and Go Away").

PowerShares S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD)

As the name suggests, this high dividend fund yields 3.33% annually (as of May 3, 2016). What’s more striking is that the fund is low volatile in nature, making a winning combination in this low-yield but jittery environment (read: ETF Picks for a Retirement Portfolio).

iShares US Preferred Stock ETF (PFF)

As yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds have been hovering at extremely subdued levels for last few weeks, income-hungry investors can flock to the preferred ETF space. A preferred stock is a hybrid security that has characteristics of both debt and equity. These do not have voting rights but have a higher claim on assets than common stock (Time for Preferred ETFs?)

That means that dividends to preferred stock holders must be paid before any dividend is paid to the common stock holders. This inventing class is also high-yield in nature. PFF yields about 4.80% annually (as of May 3, 2016).

iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
Quite expectedly, if the global market loses steam in May, safe havens will take the upper hand. So, investors can definitely tap the U.S. Treasury bond ETFs. This is especially true because the Fed stayed put after it hiked the key interest rate in December for the first time after almost a decade. For higher yields, long-term U.S. Treasury bond ETFs like TLT would be a great option.

TLT yields about 2.4% annually (as of May 3, 2016) and has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 (Buy) with a High risk outlook (read: Treasury ETFs in Focus on Flight to Safety).
ETRACS CMCI Gold Total Return ETN (UBG)
It is common knowledge now that gold has been on tear this year on a safe haven demand and a weaker greenback. Thus, a gold exchange-traded product could be a good bet at this time. UBG is designed to track the performance of the UBS Bloomberg CMCI Gold Total Return. The index gauges the collateralized returns from a basket of gold futures contracts. The index consists of the gold futures contracts included in the CMCI with five target maturities.
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PWRSH-SP5 HI DV (SPHD): ETF Research Reports
ISHARS-US PFD S (PFF): ETF Research Reports
ISHARS-20+YTB (TLT): ETF Research Reports
E-TRC UBC GOLD (UBG): ETF Research Reports
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