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Getting ETF Clues From Single Stocks

Stocks in this article: XLP PBJ GDX

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Forget the idea that the economy will contract in upcoming quarters ... at least for a moment. And put aside the idea that housing prices have yet to bottom out. Instead, let's focus entirely on the price movement of a premier benchmark in this year's stock market correction.

Specifically, U.S. stocks in the S&P 500 fell from a May 2 intraday peak of 1370 to an Aug. 9 intraday low of 1101, shedding a confidence-shaking 19.6%. That's not quite enough damage to constitute a bear. Nevertheless, it is a three-month period with very few fans beyond the short-selling crowd.

By the end of August, however, the large-cap index had clawed its way back to 1230. What's more, the price of the S&P 500 tested the 1230 area for several days but simply couldn't break on through to the upside.

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What makes this worthy of note? Resistance has been strongest at a point where the price is down 10% from the May 2 intraday high. It follows that institutional traders have outlined a trading range for the S&P 500 (1233-1096) whereby the markers constitute the very definition for a correction (1233) and/or a new bear (1096).

Unfortunately for some, there's no reason to expect a definitive market trend any time soon. Hedge fund movers and shakers, high-frequency trading enthusiasts and mutual fund managers (via redemptions) are likely to keep everyone guessing in September. It follows that you should not be looking to add much risk right now.

That said, individual securities are giving indications about ETFs you may still consider.

For example, on Thursday, Sept. 8, Coca-Cola (KO), Colgate Palmolive (CL) and National Beverage Corp (FIZZ) each hit new 52-week highs. An ETF investor may choose to tap SPDR Select Consumer Staples (XLP), or even a niche fund like PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage (PBJ).

Although gold stocks have a weak correlation with the precious commodity itself (0.35) over the past year, miners have been coming back to life. Some credit the increase in dividends; others explain that gold's dollar value appreciation inevitably affects producers in a positive way.

Goldcorp (GG), Yamana Gold (AUY), Newmont Mining (NEM) and Barrick Gold (ABX) all hit 52-week pinnacles. Without question, the activity is benefiting Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX).

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