Back to top

Image: Bigstock

Best & Worst ETFs of October

Read MoreHide Full Article

October 2020 saw some solid stock market gyrations. The month is traditionally the most volatile, as the VIX, the fear gauge index, tends to top in October, according to Macro Risk Advisors, as quoted on CNBC.

This October was no different with stocks seesawing on election uncertainty. Failed stimulus talks, subdued tech earnings and rising coronavirus cases on the global front were the added Wall Street woes. The S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq composite lost about 3.3%, 4.7% and 3.7%, respectively, in the month.

Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few ETF winners and losers of October.



The yield curve steepened in October. Still-strong stimulus hopes despite President Trump’s announcement of a halt in stimulus talks led to the rise in long-term bond yields. The benchmark U.S. treasury yields gained 20 bps to 0.88% in October while the two-year treasury yields hovered in the range of 0.13% to 0.18%.

As banks seek to borrow money at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, a steepening yield curve will earn more on lending and pay less on deposits. This will expand net margins and increase banks’ profits. As a result, all banks gained and SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE - Free Report) added the highest return of 15.3%.


Global X MSCI Nigeria ETF (NGE - Free Report) added about 20% in October as Nigerian stocks jumped the most in more than five years. It was one of the best global equity gauges in October. A Bloomberg article noted that local investors are betting big on the stock market in search of returns as yields on government debt declined after a surprise September rate cut, which was aimed at boosting the economy in Africa’s largest oil producer amid the coronavirus-led crisis.


China has apparently shown signs of steady recovery from the coronavirus-led slowdown. China’s manufacturing sector has been expanding steadily. In mid-October, Chinese domestic equities became worth more than $10 trillion for the first time since 2015, when a record crash occurred in the Chinese market due to yuan devaluation. Invesco China Technology ETF (CQQQ - Free Report) (up 7.61%) and GLOBAL X MSCI China Consumer Discretionary ETF (CHIQ - Free Report) (up 7.3%) are the winners.



As coronavirus cases surged in Europe, many countries like Germany, France and the United Kingdom imposed new restriction measures and stay-at-home mandates. This has stirred fears of a deeper slowdown in the coming days. iShares MSCI Poland ETF (EPOL - Free Report) (down 15%), Global X MSCI Greece ETF (GREK) (down 10.4%), and Franklin FTSE Germany ETF (FLGR) (down 10.3%) and SPDR Euro Stoxx 50 ETF (FEZ - Free Report) (down 7.6%) were among the key laggards.


A Bloomberg article noted that fewer Americans decided to celebrate trick-or-treat this Halloween with the rising numbers of COVID-19 infection. This probably weighed on the cocoa prices. iPath Bloomberg Cocoa Subindex Total Return ETN (NIB - Free Report) lost 10.2% in October.

Data released in mid-October indicated that cocoa processing in Europe dropped 4.7% in the third quarter to the smallest for that period noticed in four years. North America bean grinding slumped 4% to the minimum level for the period in 12 years, while processing plunged 10% in Asia.


iShares US Home Construction ETF (ITB - Free Report) lost 8.2% in October probably due to the rise in bond yields.  The benchmark U.S. treasury yields gained 20 bps to 0.88% in October. SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB - Free Report) lost about 5% in the month.

Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox?

Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week. Get it free >>