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NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted than the U.S. Federal Reserve is still leaning towards additional easing, either through bond purchases or an extension of low rates into 2015. (Tell us something that we didn't already know.)
Yet, the Fed does not appear poised to act in September or October. Indeed, with the Fed unlikely to provide clarity until after the presidential election, stock exchange-traded funds may see volatile back-and-forth movement in the weeks ahead.
In contrast, high-income ETFs are having the time of their lives. Virtually every asset with impressive yield spreads over comparable treasury bonds hit a new 52-week high as of Aug. 31.
Here are some of the high-income ETFs that hit new highs and the percentage of growth for August:
ETRACS Business Development Company Index Note(BDCS), 4.8%
iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITS(REM), 2.1%
iShares S&P Preferred(PFF), 1.4%
SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond(JNK), 1.3%
iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate(HYG), 1.1%
iShares JPM Emerging Market Bond(EMB), 0.8%
Guggenheim Bulletshares 2014 High Yield(BSJE), 0.7%
So what would it take for stock ETFs to celebrate as resoundingly as high-income ETFs? What would prompt the Fed to declare that it will take decisive action? The August jobs numbers would need to be decidedly weak when they are released Friday.
At the moment, analysts project 120,000 new jobs (not adjusted for those leaving or joining the labor market a la the labor participation rate). If there's a "big miss," I expect stock ETFs to scream, shout and twist for Bernanke's crew to produce. The markets would probably get what they want by the Fed's mid-September meeting.
However, if headline unemployment stays at 8.3% and roughly 100,000 jobs or more come to fruition, expect the Fed to remain on hold until after the November presidential election. In this instance,
stock ETFs might react negatively
. Ironically, the weaker the short-term economic data, the better stock ETFs should perform.
High-income ETFs? They may be in the sweet spot for quite some time. Regardless if they are "champagne bubbly," investors can't resist the yields and they won't have to fret capital depreciation
until and unless Treasury bond ETFs enter a downtrend
With the Fed eventually buying more, then, there's still room for helium in that Treasury bond balloon.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.