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Low Volatility ETFs in Focus

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After a recent series of new highs, Wall Street retreated on a doubt over trade deal that has undermined bullish sentiments. The latest reports revealed that the phase one trade deal between Washington and Beijing may be delayed and could slide into next year as Beijing presses for tariff rollbacks.

And if the trade deal is not reached, President Donald Trump would raise tariffs on Chinese imports with the Dec 15 deadline. This has sparked market volatility once again, leading to higher demand for lower risk securities (read: Value Investing Regains Appeal: Top-Ranked ETFs & Stocks).

On the other hand, monetary easing policies and better-than-expected earnings are providing enough impetus to the stock market. Notably, lower rates have made borrowings cheaper, providing a boost to both investment in new projects and repayment of a higher-rate debt. Further, a spate of better-than-expected data added to the strength. This is especially true as October retail sales have rebounded from a sluggish September and American consumers continue to be willing to spend, which is good news for domestic economic growth.

Against such a backdrop, those seeking to remain invested in the equity world could consider low-risk ETFs by picking low volatility products.

Why?

Low-volatility ETFs have the potential to outpace the broader market in an uncertain environment providing significant protection to the portfolio. This is because these funds include more stable stocks that have experienced the least price movement in their portfolio. Further, these allocate more to defensive sectors that usually have a higher distribution yield than the broader markets (read: Worried About Dividend ETFs' Rally? 5 Low P/E Plays for You).

Given these characteristics, these products are on limelight yet again. While there are several options in the space, we have presented those ETFs that hit new highs in the last trading session and a few that are the most popular picks:

ETFs That Hit New Highs

Fidelity Low Volatility Factor ETF (FDLO - Free Report)


This fund tracks the Fidelity U.S. Low Volatility Factor Index, holding 129 stocks in its basket with none accounting for more than 4.72% share. From a sector look, the ETF is skewed toward the information technology sector at 22.1% while healthcare, financials and consumer discretionary round off the next three spots with a double-digit allocation each. The fund has been able to garner $329.1 million in AUM so far and average daily volume is also moderate at 76,000 shares. FDLO charges 29 bps in annual fees from investors.

SPDR SSGA US Large Cap Low Volatility Index ETF (LGLV - Free Report)

This product tracks the SSGA US Large Cap Low Volatility Index, holding 127 stocks, with each accounting for less than 2% of assets. Financials dominates the fund’s returns with one-third share, while information technology and industrials receive double-digit exposure each. LGLV has amassed $926.5 million in its asset base and charges 12 bps in annual fees. Volume is moderate, exchanging more than 112,000 shares in hand on average.

JPMorgan U.S. Minimum Volatility ETF (JMIN - Free Report)

This ETF tracks the JP Morgan US Minimum Volatility Index, holding well-diversified 221 stocks in its basket. Consumer goods, healthcare and utilities are the top three sectors. The ETF has AUM of $108.6 million and average daily volume of 31,000 shares. It charges 12 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) (read: Here's Why Consumer Staples ETFs Are Rising This Year).

iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA Small-Cap ETF (SMMV - Free Report)

With AUM of $413.3 million, this product offers exposure to U.S. small-cap stocks with potentially less risk and follows the MSCI USA Small Cap Minimum Volatility (USD) Index. It holds 386 stocks in its basket with each accounting for less than 2.1% share. Here, financials, real estate, information technology and industrials are the top four sectors with double-digit exposure each. SMMV charges 20 bps in fees per year from investors and trades in average daily volume of 95,000 shares. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #3.

ETFs That Are Most Popular

iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF (USMV - Free Report)

This fund offers exposure to 212 stocks by tracking the MSCI USA Minimum Volatility Index. It is well spread out across a number of securities, with none holding more than 1.8% of the assets. From a sector look, information technology, financials, consumer staples, healthcare and consumer discretionary take the top five spots with a double-digit allocation each. With AUM of $36.2 billion, the product charges 0.15% in expense ratio and trades in solid average daily volume of 4.6 million shares. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 (Buy) with a Medium risk outlook.

Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (SPLV - Free Report)

This ETF tracks the S&P 500 Low Volatility Index and holds 100 securities in its basket with none accounting for more than 1.23% of the assets. Utilities, real estate and financials make up the top three sectors with a double-digit allocation each. SPLV has amassed $12.5 billion in its asset base and trades in heavy volume of around 3.7 million shares a day on average. It charges 25 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 with a Medium risk outlook (read: ETF Strategies to Tackle the Trade War Uncertainty).

Invesco S&P MidCap Low Volatility ETF (XMLV - Free Report)

This fund offers exposure to the mid-cap segment with the lowest-realized volatility over the past 12 months. It follows the S&P MidCap 400 Low Volatility Index and holds 80 securities in its basket, with none accounting for more than 1.8% of assets. Real estate, utilities and financials are the top three sectors with a double-digit allocation each. The ETF has AUM of $3.7 billion and charges 25 bps in annual fees. It trades in average daily volume of about 327,000 shares and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3.

Bottom Line

These products could be worthwhile for low-risk-tolerance investors and have the potential to outperform the broader market, especially if trade fears continue to dent sentiments.

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