NEW YORK (
Fabian Capital Management
) -- Last week we saw some of the biggest swings in both the stock and bond market for 2013 as comments from
Chairman Ben Bernanke stoked the fires of QE tapering and rising rates.
The sell-off in equities pushed the
SPDR S&P 500 ETF
below its 50-day moving average, which I have been watching all year as a key technical level. This could be the start of a more profound correction in stocks which is why it's important to review your invested positions and assess where the opportunities are in the market.
I have been recommending for several weeks that growth investors consider paring back on their equity exposure in preparation for a volatile summer. The first step is to move a portion of your portfolio to cash where you have a clear and unobstructed view of the investment landscape. That way you can make new trading decisions with a clear head and open mind.
In the midst of a "normal" correction, I would be looking at several opportunities to hedge or balance out the remaining stock exposure that you want to keep in the portfolio with non-correlated positions. These can include Treasury bonds, precious metals, or even short positions. However, these are far from normal circumstances and each asset class should be reviewed with an eye towards both the risks and potential rewards.
A quick look at the price action of the
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF
iShares 7-10 Year Bond ETF
will show that both the intermediate and long end of the bond spectrum have been hit the hardest by rising interest rates. Traditionally, these ETFs have been a safe haven in times of stock turmoil as a "flight to quality" trade. However, the threat of rising interest rates has investors fleeing Treasury bonds right now. So far TLT has fallen more than 16% from its highs while IEF is off more than 6% as well.
I am not ready to declare the 30-year bond bull market dead quite yet, which is why these funds should still be on your watch list. If we see a return of stability in interest rates and a continued push lower in equities, I believe that investors will realize that there is greater value in bonds than in stocks right here. The key to remember is that these should be used as trading positions and not long-term investment themes. Ultimately we are going to see a return of much higher rates which is why you need to keep your stop losses tight.