Biotech ETF Nears a Critical Juncture

ETF Trends

Biotechnology stocks and exchange traded funds have experienced an eventful 2014 with plenty of focus on the group’s jaw-dropping March/April tumble.

From its late February peak to its April 11 trough, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) , the largest biotech ETF by assets, plunged more than 21%. That was enough to put the once high-flying IBB in bear market territory. [Biotech ETFs: Enter the Bear]

Much to the chagrin of wanton short sellers and those that were previously eager to proclaim a biotech bubble, IBB and rival biotech ETFs have come roaring back. That rally has been acknowledged, though the bubble birds have had difficulty getting around to doing so. [No One Loves This Biotech Rally]

Now, IBB is facing some critical resistance. If the IBB can break that resistance, particularly on convincing volume, it would be validation of the sector’s recent resurgence.

“White hot Bio-Tech received a punch in face between March 1st to April the 15th, losing 20% of its value. Since mid April IBB has been attempting to recover from that decline. The rally over the past two months has recovered all but 23% of that swift decline,” said Chris Kimble of Kimble Charting Solutions. “IBB is now attempting to punch its was back into its steep rising channel and above the 23% Fibonacci retracement level.”

Helped by encouraging trial results and the familiar catalyst of mergers and acquisitions news, biotech ETFs have been especially strong over the past month. Over that time IBB is up 6.2%, an almost mediocre performance compared to the 14% gained by the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI) and the 9.5% returned by the PowerShares Dynamic Biotechnology & Genome Portfolio (PBE) .

However, investors are displaying reluctance to embrace biotech ETFs once again. Since the start of the second quarter, IBB, XBI, PBE and the Market Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH) have lost a combined $466.3 million in assets, more than 10 times the $46 million gained by the First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (FBT) . FBT is the only biotech ETF to see inflows this quarter. [Vertex Lifts These Biotech ETFs]

Technicals could hold the near-term key for these ETFs.

“Should IBB succeed and climb back into its rising channel, it would be a positive bullish accomplishment for this sector,” added Kimble.

iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF

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Chart Courtesy: Kimble Charting Solutions

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