NEW YORK (ETF Expert) -- For the better part of six months, small-company stocks have outperformed large-company stocks. That's not unusual for an unapologetic bull rally. Indeed, if investors are embracing risk, then they are typically willing to pay a higher price to own faster growing corporations.Since the beginning of October, however, riskier holdings have been losing momentum to the large-cap bellwethers. The iShares Russell 2000 ( IWM): SPDR S&P 500 Trust ( SPY) price ratio demonstrates the relative weakness in smaller company stock shares.
Interestingly enough, the valuation concern is not present in Europe, Australia (Australasia) and the Far East. Consequently, small-cap outperformance has not waned; the iShares MSCI EAFE Small Cap ( SCZ): iShares MSCI EAFE ( EFA) price ratio shows that SCZ is maintaining its relative strength.
Courtesy of StockCharts.com The under-achievement of small-caps is not the only sign that investors may be turning defensive. The First Trust Equal Weighted Nasdaq 100 ( QQEW) has been giving ground to the SPDR Dow Jones Industrials Fund ( DIA). Ostensibly, investors appear to be backing away from tech-heavy growers and favoring "old school" favorites in the Dow Industrials. The QQEW:DIA price ratio looks ominously similar to the IWM:SPY price ratio. Courtesy of StockCharts.com While few people believe the Federal Reserve would enact a surprise tapering in December, some folks may be charting a more defensive course in light of an eventual tapering in 2014. Of course, a lot may come down to the jobs reports that come out over the next few months. Job growth and wage growth will be the Fed's main justification for backing away from buying U.S. debt at the same pace. Weak jobs reports would likely keep the Fed on hold much longer... and the markets rising with all the complacency that 2013 has represented. Follow @etfexpert This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.