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ETF Investing in a Rate-Sensitive Rally

NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- I tweeted a few facts last week that might have left "followers" believing that I am bearish on stocks. Of course, one does not get to express his thoughts in great detail when he is limited to 140 characters. I wrote: "Avg quarterly profits for Dow companies in 2013 up 2.6%. Avg quarterly sales -0.7%. Yet Dow up 22%."

The meat of the tweet, however, came in the hashtag (#TechnicalsTrumpFundamentals"). After all, I was not hinting that investors scurry for the exits simply because price-to-earnings ratios and price-to-sales ratios are elevated. On the contrary. I was pointing out the reality that market-based securities can rise and fall on other things than consensus fair value estimates of share prices.

Right now, most stocks and most bonds are moving solely on perceptions of what central banks around the globe may or may not do. For those who claim that an improving economy is the driver of the remarkable bull rally, there's a mayor in Toronto I'd like you to meet.

Similarly, for those who erroneously attribute the run-up to consistent earnings and revenue beats, the facts on quarterly corporate data throughout 2013 speak clear and loud; profit growth is primarily attributable to share buybacks, scaled back human resources and Fed-inspired debt refinancing; sales growth is ... well, negative or flat.

Since monetary policy is the primary driver of the boom in stock prices as well as the pressure in bond prices, and since future policy has become murky, trend analysis offers guidance that fundamental analysis does not.

For instance, it has not mattered that corporations in the Dow Industrials are struggling to sell their products and services. In a momentum-based, Fed-fueled rally, what matters is that the current price of the SPDR Dow Jones Industrials (DIA) has stayed comfortably above a long-term 200-day moving average for all of 2013.

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