Sectors In Review: May 2020

None of the sector ETFs managed to eke out a positive return during the month.

Reviewed by: Heather Bell
Edited by: Heather Bell

March was a disastrous month for sector ETFs, with every fund landing in the red. The bestperforming ETF for the month was the Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV), which was down 3.86%. It was followed by the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (IBB), down 5.34%; and the iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE), down 6.53%. The worst performers suffered far greater losses, led by the iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (IEZ), which fell a stunning 55.89%, while the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production (XOP) fell 45.85% and the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) fell 34.27%. The sector ETFs in this comparison saw total outflows of roughly $2 billion during the month, with the Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ) seeing the most outflows, at $1.6 billion; followed by the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF), which lost $1.4 billion; and the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY), which decreased by $1.2 billion. Meanwhile, XLE, in a presumable flight to safety, gained $1.6 billion. Still, the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) pulled in the secondlargest amount of assets, at $1.1 billion, while XLV gained $916.8 million.




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Sources: Bloomberg and FactSet. Data from 03/31/2019 to 03/31/2020. ETFs chosen to represent each sector based on the most liquid ETF in each segment of the ETF Classification System.


Heather Bell is a former managing editor of She has also held editorial positions at Dow Jones Indexes and Lehman Brothers. Bell is a graduate of Dartmouth college and resides in the Denver area with her two dogs.