It's a tandem move that defies logic. At a time when crude oil prices are falling, you would think transportation companies including railroads and truckers would be making money.

But if you look at the chart of the iShares Transportation Average ETF (IYT) , you'd see otherwise.

The exchange-traded fund that tracks transportation stocks is underperforming the S&P 500 so far in the fourth quarter, and underperforming for the year to date. The three largest ETF holdings are FedEx (FDX) , United Parcel Services (UPS) and Norfolk Southern (NSC) , whose shares got a big boost thanks to Canadian Pacific's  (CP) attempts to buy the company.

Lower energy prices are not helping the transportation sector except for the airline industry. Alaska Air (ALK) , the largest-weighed airline in the transportation ETF, set an all-time high this week.

Trucks are weaker because the heavy-load carriers are not getting the orders to ship equipment and products in support of fracking in the shale oil areas of the country. The rails have lighter loads of coal and other finished energy products.

The package delivery companies FedEx and UPS are the largest components among the 22 stocks in the transportation ETF, but there is no evidence that lower fuel costs and promising holiday deliveries are helping these stocks. These two plus Norfolk Southern represents 27.2% of the ETF weighting.

Here's the scorecard for the transportation ETF and its three largest components.

 

Here's the weekly chart for the transportation ETF.


Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith

The transportation ETF, at around $138, is down 1.9% so far in the fourth quarter and 16.4% year to date. It is in correction territory 18.2% below its all-time high of $167.80 set on Nov. 28, 2014. The ETF is 7% above the 2015 low of $128.26 set on Aug. 24, Black Monday.

The weekly chart is negative with the ETF below its key weekly moving average of $144.30 but above its 200-week simple moving average of $126.47. The weekly momentum reading is projected to decline to 64.44 this week down from 75.38 on Dec. 4.

The horizontal lines are the Fibonacci retracements of the rise from its 2009 low of $38.33 to its June 23, 2014 high. As shown on the chart the ETF has been attempting to stabilize around its 23.6% retracement of $137.21 since the week of Aug. 28. The downside is to the 38.2% retracement of $118.31.

Investors looking to buy IYT should place a good till canceled limit order to buy the ETF if it drops to $130.34, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2015. Investors looking to reduce holdings should place a good until canceled limit order to sell the ETF if it rises to $144.20, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2015.

Here's the weekly chart for FedEx.


Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith

FedEx (11.97% weighting), at around $148, is up 2.1% so far in the fourth quarter but down 15.3% year to date. The stock is in bear market territory 20.6% below its all-time high of $185.19 set on June 11. The stock is 13.1% above the 2015 low of $130.01 set on Aug. 24.

The weekly chart is negative with the stock below its key weekly moving average of $156.18 and above its 200-week simple moving average of $129.66. The weekly momentum reading is projected to decline to 75.35 this week down from 81.88 on Dec. 4, moving below the overbought threshold of 80.00.

The horizontal lines are the Fibonacci retracements of the rise from its 2009 low of $33.66 to its June 11 high. As shown on the chart, FedEx closed Wednesday below its 23.6% retracement of $149.38 with downside risk to the 38.2% retracement of $109.39.

Investors looking to buy FedEx should place a good till canceled limit order to buy the stock if it drops to $142.01, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2015. Investors looking to reduce holdings should place a good until canceled limit order to sell the stock if it rises to $157.29, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2015.

Here's the weekly chart for UPS.


Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith

United Parcel Services (8.29% weighting), at around $101, is up 1.8% so far in the fourth quarter but down 9.6% year to date, putting it in correction territory 12.2% below its all-time high of $114.40 set on Jan. 22. The stock is 7.3% above the 2015 low of $93.64 set on Aug. 26.

The weekly chart is negative with the stock below its key weekly moving average of $102.57 and above its 200-week simple moving average of $91.88. The weekly momentum reading is projected to decline to 66.78 this week down from 71.77 on Dec. 4.

The horizontal lines are the Fibonacci retracements of the rise from its 2009 low of $37.91 to its Jan. high. As shown on the chart, UPS has been trading back and forth around its 23.6% retracement of $96.41 since Oct. 2013. The pattern shown is called a head-and-shoulders top. The downside risk is to the 38.2% retracement of $85.23.

Investors looking to buy UPS should place a good till canceled limit order to buy the stock if it drops to $87.28, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2015. Investors looking to reduce holdings should place a good until canceled limit order to sell the stock if it rises to $104.04 and $109.92, which are key levels on technical charts until the end of 2015.

Here's the weekly chart for Norfolk Southern.


Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith

Norfolk Southern (6.93% weighting), at close to $88, is up 14.6% so far in the fourth quarter but down 20.1% year to date, putting it in bear market territory 25.6% below its all-time high of $117.64 set on Nov. 25, 2014. The stock is 21.4% above the 2015 low of $72.10 set on Aug. 24.

The weekly chart is negative with the stock below its key weekly moving average of $87.96 and on the cusp of its 200-week simple moving average of $85.35. The weekly momentum reading is projected to decline to 76.49 this week down from 79.27 on Dec. 4.

The horizontal lines are the Fibonacci retracements of the rise from its 2009 low of $26.33 to its Nov. 2014 high. As shown on the chart, Norfolk Southern held its 50% retracement of $72.03 at the flash crash low. The rebound trended above its 38.2% retracement of $82.82 following the original Canadian Pacific bid on Nov. 17. The high was a failed test of the 23.6% retracement of $96.16, which failed around Thanksgiving.

Investors looking to buy Norfolk should place a good till canceled limit order to buy the stock if it drops to $72.41, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2015. Investors looking to reduce holdings should place a good until canceled limit order to sell the stock if it rises to $91.60 and $96.26, which are key levels on technical charts until the end of this week and to the end of 2015, respectively.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held nopositions in the stocks mentioned.