As the market flirts with 13-month highs, market participants seem to be shifting money to historically defensive assets and equity sectors.

For roughly the past two months, while the well-cited "risk trade" purportedly continues, certain intersector and intermarket relationships have been rising in favor of more "risk-averse" stocks.

The chart above is the

Retail HOLDRs

(RTH) - Get VanEck Vectors Retail ETF Report

vs. the

SPDR Retail

(XRT) - Get SPDR S&P Retail ETF Report


The RTH is heavily weighted toward lower-beta names, with


(WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report


Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report

making up 30% of the index, while the XRT contains many high-beta specialty retailers.

The Ichimoku chart shows the ratio over the cloud for the first time in over a year.

To explain this indicator, the cloud is composed of two lines. One is an average of the nine and 26-day midpoint of prices. The other is the midpoint of prices for the past 52 days. Those lines are pushed forward, giving a dynamic support and resistance area. Simply put, when above the cloud the trend is bullish, when below it's bearish. With this ratio in a clearly bullish trend, traders of the retailing space seem to desire lower risk levels.

Below we have a ratio chart of the

Utilities Sector

(XLU) - Get Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund Report

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vs. the

S&P 500


Since topping in February, the trend has been lower. But for the past three weeks, utilities have outperformed the market by nearly 6%.

The DMI indicator included is showing the most positive directional movement since June. In fact, it was in early June that this indicator and the ratio itself traded in a similar fashion to today. At that time, the S&P was churning at the highs and was hit by an 8% correction over the following three weeks.

Below I graphed the

Energy Sector ETF

(XLE) - Get Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund Report

vs. the

Oil Service HOLDRs

(OIH) - Get VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF Report


Again we have a trend that has risen and improved for a ratio with a cautious bias.

Trading above the cloud, this ratio shows traders parking funds into lower-beta big oil names at a faster rate than in the higher-beta oil service names. Even though the XLE contains some volatile names, its weighting is minuscule relative to those for


(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report



(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report

, which combined make up 33% of the index.

It pays to be aware of these trends. These ratios can very well be experiencing a short term move up, but if the past is a guide, a general market selloff may be forthcoming.

Jim Stellakis has over 15 years of experience in technical research and trading; he has focused primarily on the energy and utility complex at investment and trading firms such as Bear Wagner, Touradji Capital, and Millennium Partners. He is currently an independent trader and adviser to buy-side portfolio managers. Stellakis' work focuses on two areas of technical research: relative ratio analysis and price analysis of commodities using Ichimoku analysis. He is a Certified Market Technician (CMT) and holds a Series 86 license (Research Analyst). He graduated with a B.S. in Finance from St. John's University.