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ETF Periscope: Will Apple and Facebook Make More Noise Than Spain and Greece?

Posted on the 23 July 2012 by Phil's Stock World @philstockworld

ETF Periscope: Will Apple and Facebook Make More Noise Than Spain and Greece?“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” — Napoleon Hill

Last Friday’s 120-point smack down of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) left the blue-chip index pretty much where it began at the beginning of July. It might be regarded as a microcosm of the entire year, one where the Dow has more or less trended sideways in spite of the occasional attempt to either break out or break down from that trend.

Apparently, the eternal battle between the Bulls and Bears is fairly balanced for the moment, as may be evidenced by the lack of commitment that is required for either side to gain the upper or, in the Bearish case, the lower hand. Apparently enough buyers are out there for most stocks, provided the price is right. The flip side is that investors are also quick to take any profits off the table, evidently lacking confidence in the overall macroeconomic picture.

The low bar set by analysts for this quarter’s earnings season remains the leading factor for a sustained push by the Bulls. So far, the results have been mixed, and the usual daily knee-jerk reaction of traders and investors to any given day’s earning announcements seems to get countered rather swiftly in the opposite direction of the initial “jerk.”

As far as the coming week is concerned, the plate is set for more of the same sort of battle that will potentially result in a stasis similar to the one that has been occurring overall in the equity market this year.

Economic reports out of Washington due this week will provide the latest indication of the general health of the U.S. economy, as second quarter gross domestic product numbers will be released. The initial consensus from economists points to a minimal level of GDP growth, under the 2% mark. The accompanying stagnation in unemployment will likely continue as a result, a reoccurring loop which will go on until a significant impetus, such as additional stimulus, is injected into the economy.

What could goose the market upward this week would be a combination of good numbers from Apple (AAPL), which would be expected, and solid numbers from Facebook (FB), which would come as a bit of a surprise. Facebook has already proven its ability to impact the market in a big way, though admittedly on the negative side. Should its first numbers as a public company prove to be positive, particularly in tandem with Apple posting solid numbers, it might be received by Wall Street investors as a reason to move off from large cash positions and back into stocks.

Good Apple numbers and bad Facebook numbers? In that event, expect more of the same sideways trend currently in place. Should Apple disappoint along with the Zuckerberg brigade, the Bears will likely roar.

Also in the mix, as usual, is Europe, with Spain’s benchmark 10-year bond yield hitting over 7.20%. This is significant, particularly on the psychological level, as this is the highest rate since the eurozone was formed. What is somewhat surprising is that this rate, generally regarded as being “unsustainable” for Spain, follows the approval of that country’s recent bailout package. It would have been less surprising if the 10-year bond yield had drifted down. The fact that it didn’t is highly indicative of the ongoing concern as to the viability of the eurozone’s continued survival, at least in its current configuration.

Add to the mix a late weekend report that Greece may be denied additional aid payments from the coffers of the International Monetary Fund, and the market may be looking at a recipe where good U.S. earnings reports may be trumped by the concern of further eurozone problems.

What the Periscope Sees

For those feeling positive about the potential for the technology sector receiving a boost should both Apple and Facebook post numbers above and beyond expectations, a few ETFs to consider going long are XLK (Technology Select SPDR Fund), up 13% year to date; IGV (iShares S&P 500 GSTI Software Index Fund), up 10.5% YTD; or IXN (iShares S&P Global Technology Sector Index Fund), up over 9% YTD.

For investors who are skeptical that the eurozone issues have been resolved to anything other than a superficial level, some ETFs to consider shorting include EWP (iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund), down 30% YTD; EWI (iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund), down 17% to date; or FEZ (SPDR DJ Euro STOXX 50 ETF), down over 9% so far this year.

ETF Periscope

Full disclosure:  The author does not personally hold any of the ETFs mentioned in this week’s “What the Periscope Sees.”

Disclaimer: This newsletter is published solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as advice or a recommendation to specific individuals. Individuals should take into account their personal financial circumstances in acting on any rankings or stock selections provided by Sabrient. Sabrient makes no representations that the techniques used in its rankings or selections will result in or guarantee profits in trading. Trading involves risk, including possible loss of principal and other losses, and past performance is no indication of future results.

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