Alpha-Oriented ETFs in a Beta-Dominated Stock Market

NEW YORK (ETF Expert) -- If I spent more time on Twitter, I might react to media commentary as follows:

1. Fundamentals? LOL! RT @YahooFinance. Investors now concentrate on fundamentals after weeks when Federal Reserve policies dominated markets.

2. Did not matter in Q1. RT @CNBC. This might be time when the market takes its lumps for not showing real sales growth.

3. Raising rates and strengthening currency? Better run to Japan or U.S. RT@DowJones. Turkey Signals Interest-Rate Rise.

One of the few market watchers who is calling a spade a spade is technical analyst, Walter Zimmerman. He said, "... we're in the terminal stages of a Bernanke-driven bubble." I won't say that I agree with the notion that we have entered the terminal stages -- that may be far too bearish an assessment. Yet Bernanke-driven bubble hits the center of the dartboard's bulls-eye.

The macroeconomy is barely expanding. Gross domestic product (GDP) over the last three quarters has been roughly 0.4%, 1.8% and 1.1% -- so slow that one has to question those in the economic improvement camp. The microeconomic corporate picture is experiencing deceleration in profits and stagnation in sales. Why should stock prices climb any higher with weakness in actual results as well as guidance that is likely to be particularly guarded? (Silly me, I forgot that the Fed intends to remain ultra-accommodative for the foreseeable future.)

One thing that Zimmerman missed in his descriptive phrase "the Bernanke-driven balloon" is the reality that Bernanke (or a successor) will only receive an appointment for a second term if he/she continues voting in favor of QE.

Congress will not pass any stimulus bills before the November 2014 election. Heck, it could not even avoid sequestration. And that means ... the Federal Reserve is the only game in town -- the only body capable of propping up real estate, stock prices and big-ticket items like auto.

So if earnings mean very little, and if the Fed has no intention of slowing down bond purchasing or altering ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), do you stay aggressively allocated to U.S. stock ETFs? Do you hunt for bargain ETFs, or stick with the most popular names such as S&P 500 Trust ( SPY) and Vanguard Total Market ( VTI)?

Broad-based, beta-oriented assets like Vanguard Total Stock Market and iShares Russell 1000 ( IWB) make perfect sense, regardless of the reason(s) or the rationality of the uptrend. I would maintain a percentage chunk in client accounts until and unless the 100-day moving average fails to support respective prices. We can see how the 100-day supported VTI perfectly on the bounce off the June lows. Moreover, one does not have to sell everything should a broad-market asset breach the 100-day on the downside. You can sell a portion of your position, using the 200-day moving average for any additional profit taking/share liquidation.

For all the discussion of fundamentals, intelligent investors understand the benefit of controlling outcomes. Mechanical selling via stop-limit orders and trend lines removes the buy-and-hold biases that can lead to monstrous losses in one's portfolio.

For those seeking alpha to add to the broad-based positions, it's not particularly easy. One can make a case for SPDR S&P China ( GXC). Not only does it trade at a significant discount to U.S. equities, but should the Chinese government choose to do so, it has far more wiggle room to stimulate a slowing economy than most developed world countries. With a one-year correlation to VTI of a mere 0.25, one is getting a noncorrelated asset that may be at an earlier stage in stimulus and/or economic turnaround.

SPDR DJ REIT ( RWR) may also be worth a second look. The Fed fake-out that obliterated yield-sensitive assets between May-June has likely subsided. With the 10-year Treasury yield settling in and perhaps moving lower on economic weakness/safety seeking, real estate investment trusts are likely to recapture some of the mojo they experienced earlier in the year. A correlation of 0.50 over the prior six months is noticeably low for these asset classes.

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

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

More from ETFs

What Bad Weather? Kohl's Shares Spike as Same-Store Sales Jump

What Bad Weather? Kohl's Shares Spike as Same-Store Sales Jump

Listen: Here's What You Need To Know About ETFs Today (Hint: They're on Fire!)

Listen: Here's What You Need To Know About ETFs Today (Hint: They're on Fire!)

Bitcoin Today: Bears Rear Their Heads as Prices Continue Downward Spiral

Bitcoin Today: Bears Rear Their Heads as Prices Continue Downward Spiral

Cannabis Stocks Are Screaming Sells After Seeing This Deal: Doug Kass Insider

Cannabis Stocks Are Screaming Sells After Seeing This Deal: Doug Kass Insider

60 Seconds: What's the Difference Between an ETF and a Mutual Fund?

60 Seconds: What's the Difference Between an ETF and a Mutual Fund?