Defensive ETFs in Driver's Seat - TheStreet

By Gary Gordon of www.etfexpert.com.

There's no question that defensive sectors have led the way on a momentum basis.

SPDR Select Utilities

(XLU) - Get Report

and

iShares Telecom

(IYZ) - Get Report

amassed 8.4% and 10.5%, respectively, over the last four weeks.

Yet this may have something to do with

year-end yield harvesting

and/or efforts to combine cash-flow ETFs with growth ETFs.

After all, even if the financials and energy segments have slowed, tech and agribusiness are still lighting up the scoreboard. Over the same time frame,

SPDR Semiconductors

(XSD) - Get Report

and

Market Vectors Agribusiness

(MOO) - Get Report

garnered 7.6% and 8.1%, respectively.

Although some folks are concerned that the

dollar carry trade (a.k.a. risk trade)

is finished, I think that call may be a bit premature. And here's why:

1.

U.S. Government Policy

. An executive branch determined to see money spent on health care reform? An equally determined Congress to spend trillions on uncertain stimulus, undeniably filled with questionable pet projects? A

Federal Reserve

that will undoubtedly be late to embrace a change in policy direction?

Remember, the "risk trade" is based on a world view that U.S. interest rates will remain negligible while the U.S. dollar remains stable or weak. The powers in the U.S. government have no desire to see the dollar strengthen significantly any time soon.

2.

Investment Adviser Strategy

. Although I may maintain energy- and materials-dependent positions like

iShares Australia

(EWA) - Get Report

and

Vanguard Emerging Markets

(VWO) - Get Report

, I have reduced some exposure to

SPDR Select Materials

(XLB) - Get Report

. That's given me an opportunity to add to income-producing sectors like

SPDR Utilities

(XLU) - Get Report

in certain accounts.

And I am not the only who has been doing it. Matt Hougan at Index Universe recently interviewed an ETF-only adviser who specifically cited positions in tech, telecom and utilities. The reasoning? It is a means to combine growth with stable cash flows.

3.

Dollar Perspective

. The dollar proxy,

PowerShares US Dollar Bullish

(UUP) - Get Report

, may have spiked on Dubai debt concerns. It may have spiked on the better-than-anticipated unemployment figures. And UUP certainly received a great deal of

interested buyers with the surge in volume

that occurred on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.

Nevertheless, here's a little bit of perspective for readers. Beginning in March of 2009, PowerShares US Dollar Bullish finished every single month lower than the month before it, except for June. That's eight out of nine months. Even if December finished higher for the U.S. dollar, a true trend reversal may require more than the first tick higher since July.

Gary A. Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc. He has more than 20 years' experience as a personal coach in money matters, including risk assessment, small business development and investment. Gordon is often asked to consult as an educator. He has taught financial concepts in Mexico, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He also wrote the draft copy for a McGraw-Hill publication, Maverick Investing. Gordon hosts "In the Money with Gary Gordon" on San Diego's 1700 AM and writes commentary for the International Business Times as well as TheStreet.com.