Market Rout’s Winning & Losing ETFs

August 24, 2015

The new week in financial markets is starting out exactly how the last one ended, with risk-asset prices plunging across the board.

At one point today, U.S. stocks were down by more than 7 percent. They've since pared their losses to about 4 percent, but the indexes remain far below where they were just a week ago.

The market rout, which started Tuesday, Aug. 18, picked up steam on Thursday and Friday, sending U.S. stocks toward correction territory for the first time since 2011.

The epicenter of global worries is of course China. First starting with the stock market crash that began in June, worries about the world's second-largest economy accelerated on Aug. 11, after the country devalued its currency by the most since 1994.

That move sparked a host of fears about whether China is slowing more than expected and whether emerging markets in general are headed for a 1997-style Asian financial crisis.

It remains to be seen what happens with China's economy and the repercussions for the rest of the world. For now, investors are taking no chances as they rush out of riskier assets and into the proverbial safe havens of the market. Here are the biggest losers and beneficiaries of the market crash.

Loser: United States Oil Fund (USO | B-100)

The seemingly never-ending downtrend in crude oil continued today as prices collapsed to a fresh six-year low of $37.75. That's taken a bite out of the United States Oil Fund (USO), which is down 9.5 percent since Aug. 18, and 37.4 percent since the start of the year.

The crude market, which is already swamped with supply, would be in even worse shape if emerging market demand slows from here. Indeed, demand was supposed to be a bright spot this year, with the International Energy Agency forecasting for 2015 the fastest oil demand growth in five years. That could now be in jeopardy.

Loser: SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP | A-57)

Moving down in tandem with crude, energy stocks have been the hardest-hit equity sector within the U.S. market. Profits for the year are on track to more than halve from 2014, and many smaller energy producers may face bankruptcy if commodity prices don't recover soon.

The SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP), which is one of the most popular funds covering the sector, has fallen 13.1 percent since Aug. 18, and 27.5 percent year-to-date.

Winner: iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT | A-85)

One of the few winners amid the market tumult, the U.S. Treasury bond market is the ultimate safe haven. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT), which focuses on the long end of the Treasury curve, has been a price beneficiary of recent bond buying, rising 1.9 percent since Aug. 18, and 2.5 percent for 2015 so far as a whole.

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