Back to top

Image: Bigstock

Leveraged ETFs to Tap as S&P 500 Tops 3700 Mark

Read MoreHide Full Article

Wall Street has been on a historic ride with the S&P 500 Index topping 3,700 mark for the first time ever. The COVID-19 vaccine optimism and stimulus talks have been bolstering investors’ confidence in the recovery of the pandemic-ravaged economy.

In fact, the enthusiasm surrounding the rollout of Pfizer’s (PFE - Free Report) vaccine has spurred a strong wave of bullishness with UK being the first country to approve the same. The first 800,000 doses will be given to people over 80 years who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers (read: Pfizer's Coronavirus Vaccine Gets a Nod in UK: ETFs to Shine).

Additionally, reports that lawmakers and the White House are progressing toward fresh stimulus for the coronavirus-stricken economy has also led to spike in stocks. The White House unveiled a $916 billion stimulus proposal in a final rush to break months of negotiations.

The solid trend is expected to continue as we enter into the New Year. According to data from Bloomberg, the average forecast of Wall Street for the S&P 500 is more than 3,900 for 2021 with some projecting an even bigger increase. Morgan Stanley expects the S&P 500 to hit 3,900 by December 2021 while Barclays projects the benchmark to surpass the 4,000-point mark in 2021. Jefferies and BMO Capital see the S&P 500 jumping to 4,200 while Goldman expects it to trade at 4,300 by the end of next year. JP Morgan forecasts an even higher surge for the index to 4,500 by the year end (read: S&P 500 Set to Climb Higher in 2021: Bet on These ETFs).

How to Play?

Investors can tap this opportunity by going long on the index. There are a number of leveraged products in the market that offer multiple exposure to the index through the use of swaps, options, future contracts and other financial instruments. Below we highlight those and some key differences in them.

ProShares Ultra S&P500 ETF (SSO - Free Report)

This is the most popular and liquid ETF in the leveraged space with AUM of $3 billion and average daily volume of around 2.3 million shares. The fund seeks to deliver 2X the return of the index, charging investors 0.91% in expense ratio.

Direxion Daily S&P 500 Bull 2x Shares (SPUU - Free Report)

While this product also provides 2X exposure to the index, it charges a lower fee of 60 bps. It has $21.8 million in AUM and sees lower volume of about 12,000 shares a day on average.

ProShares UltraPro S&P500 ETF (UPRO - Free Report)

This fund provides 3X exposure to the index with a higher expense ratio of 0.93%. Average trading volume is solid, exchanging more than 5.1 million shares per day on average. It has amassed $1.7 billion in its asset base.

Direxion Daily S&P 500 Bull 3x Shares (SPXL - Free Report)

Like UPRO, this fund also creates 3X long position in the S&P 500 Index with 0.95% in expense ratio. It has AUM of $1.7 billion and trades in average daily volume of nearly 7.1 million shares.

Bottom Line

As a caveat, investors should note that these products are extremely volatile and suitable only for short-term traders. Additionally, the daily rebalancing, when combined with leverage, may make these products deviate significantly from the expected long-term performance figures (see: all the Leveraged Equity ETFs here).

Still, for ETF investors who are bullish on the near term, either of the above products can be an interesting choice. Clearly, a near-term long could be intriguing for those with a high-risk tolerance, and a belief that the trend is the friend in this corner of the investing world.

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 >>