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NEW YORK (ETF Expert) -- It may not take much to send the markets down these days. A profit miss by Google (GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report. A weak revenue showing by McDonalds (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report. Or perhaps the most detrimental data point of last week: a 1.7% year-over-year decline in existing-home sales.

With interest rates as low as they are, properties have become increasingly affordable. Yet existing homeowners who are marginally underwater may actually become more entrenched; that is, they are less likely to put their homes up for sale when they anticipate additional price gains that could soon make a home-seller's decision profitable.

In essence, existing owners will wait until they can exit the "distressed" seller category and enter the normal home-seller segment. Unfortunately, the housing sector cannot fully recover unless the sellers become as active as the buyers; that is, the latter may be excited by rock-bottom rates, but the former are hoping for additional price appreciation that may or may not occur.

With its mid-September commitment to purchasing mortgage-backed securities indefinitely ($40 billion per month), the

Federal Reserve

made it abundantly clear that it ties job growth and economic recovery to a real estate revival. Any hitch in the real estate recovery story seems to severely shake investor faith.

In fact, in spite of continued month-over-month momentum in the homebuilder sector, investors have been backing away from the idea that the added Fed stimulus will be a net positive for corporate profitability, sales and/or new hires. Woes at Apple and Google have sent shares of

Vanguard Information Technology

(VGT) - Get Vanguard Information Technology ETF Report

down sharply over the last month. The producers that pull materials from the earth and send it to big industrial players are not receiving much love either.

State Street SPDR Select Sector Industrials

(XLI) - Get Industrial Select Sector SPDR Fund Report

as well as

iShares DJ Materials

(IYM) - Get iShares U.S. Basic Materials ETF Report

have posted negative numbers for the past 30 days as well.

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And it's not just a number of sector ETFs that are having a hard time since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke shocked and awed the financial world. In reality, growth-oriented small companies are feeling the sting, as evidenced by the poor showing of

iShares Russell 2000 Growth

(IWO) - Get iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF Report

. Similarly, corporations tied to the well-being of the economic cycle have also been sputtering, as evidenced by weakness in

PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta

(SPHB) - Get Invesco S&P 500 High Beta ETF Report


Need a nail in the proverbial coffin? On a month-over-month basis, investors appear to have rotated back into safer, less-volatile segments since the Fed went beyond confirming QE3 rumors to announce open-ended mortgage purchasing with money it will print electronically. Leadership is coming from utilities, tracked by the

Select Sector Utility SPDR

(XLU) - Get Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund Report

; health care, tracked by the

Select Sector Health Care SPDR

(XLV) - Get Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund Report

; and the ever-so-tame

S&P 500 Low Volatility Fund

(SPLV) - Get Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF Report

. (I included these three ETFs in the table on the preceding page.)

Does this mean that the Fed's initiative to revive a stagnant economy will fail? I don't think anyone can predict the future. That said, investors for the most part bought the central bank reflation rumors in July and have been selling the news in September and October.

In my estimation, the

best risk-reward ETFs

reside in the middle of the spectrum. Assets that have relatively wide historical yield spreads with comparable Treasuries are still attractive. This includes vehicles like

iShares Intermediate Corporate Credit



iShares Emerging Market Corporate

(EMB) - Get iShares JP Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF Report


PowerShares Emerging Market Sovereign

(PCY) - Get Invesco Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt ETF Report


PowerShares Preferred

(PGX) - Get Invesco Preferred ETF Report


Additionally, Asia Pacific ETFs are still in a "buy the rumor" stage. In essence, China has plenty of wiggle room on both fiscal and monetary policy while investors expect that China will take action to stimulate its economy. Not surprisingly, some of the best month-over-month performers are Asia Pacific ETFs, including

iShares MSCI Philippines

(EPHE) - Get iShares MSCI Philippines ETF Report


iShares MSCI New Zealand

(ENZL) - Get iShares MSCI New Zealand ETF Report


iShares MSCI Malaysia

(EWM) - Get iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF Report

. Consider

getting ahead of the curve

with China's neighbors.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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Disclosure Statement: ETF Expert is a website that makes the world of ETFs easier to understand. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial and/or its clients may hold positions in ETFs, mutual funds and investment assets mentioned. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert website. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships. You may review additional ETF Expert at the site.

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