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5 ETF Ways to Bet on China's New Tariff Threats

Sweta Killa
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Trade war fears have once again flared up with China threatening to impose tariff on $60 billion worth of American goods if the United States places more tariffs on Chinese imports. The list includes new 5,207 products including aircraft, soya bean oil, smoked beef, coffee and flour imported from the United States, with charges ranging from 5-25%.

The move came following the news that Trump is mulling over raising tariffs from a proposed 10% to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods. Both countries have already implemented tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other’s goods in July. Each side is also expected to implement tariffs on an additional $16 billion in goods (read: 4 Defensive ETFs to Tackle Fed & Trade Tensions).

This time, China is focusing on roughly two-fifths of its purchases from the United States after Trump threatened two-fifths of China’s much larger exports to the United States. With this, China has now either imposed or proposed tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods, representing the vast majority of China's annual imports of American products. Last year, China has imported about $130 billion in goods from the United States.

An escalation in trade clash between the United States and China led to risk off trade, leading to higher demand for safe haven avenues or lower risk securities. Below we have highlighted six such zones and their popular ETFs where investors could stash their money amid escalating trade war fears.

Gold - SPDR Gold Trust ETF GLD

Increase in tariff threats has raised the appeal for the bullion as a store of value and hedge against market turmoil. The ultra-popular product tracking this bullion like GLD could be an interesting pick in the current market turbulence. The fund tracks the price of gold bullion measured in U.S. dollars, and kept in London under the custody of HSBC Bank USA. It is an ultra-popular gold ETF with AUM of $31.1 billion and heavy volume of nearly 6.9 million shares a day. It charges 40 bps in fees per year from investors and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a Medium risk outlook (read: Gold in Longest 4-Year Losing Streak: Go Short with ETFs).

Long-Dated Treasury - iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT

Though the fund has been out of investors’ favor this year due to rising yields and has an unfavorable Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell) with a High risk outlook, the deepening political turmoil could bring some sigh of relief. This is because the products tracking the long end of the yield curve often provide a safe haven. TLT provides exposure to long-term Treasury bonds by tracking the ICE U.S. Treasury 20+ Year Bond Index. It is one of the most popular and liquid ETFs in the bond space with AUM of $7.8 billion and average daily volume of 8.2 million shares. Expense ratio comes in at 0.15%.

Low Volatility - iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF USMV

These products have the potential to outpace the broader market providing significant protection to the portfolio. 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. While there are several options, USMV with AUM of $15.3 billion and average daily volume of 1.8 million shares is the most popular ETF. The fund charges 15 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.

Defensive - Invesco Defensive Equity ETF DEF       

Investors could rotate into defensive sectors like utilities, healthcare, and consumer staples, which generally outperform during periods of low growth and high uncertainty. DEF seems an excellent choice as this offers exposure to the companies having potentially superior risk-return profiles during periods of stock market weakness, while still offering the potential for gains during periods of market strength. The fund has accumulated $179.8 million in its asset base and sees lower volume of 10,000 shares per day on average. It charges 60 bps in fees per year and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.

Dividend - Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF VIG

The dividend-paying securities are the major sources of consistent income for investors when returns from the equity market are at risk. This is especially true as these stocks offer the best of both these worlds — safety in the form of payouts and stability in the form of mature companies that are less volatile to large swings in stock prices. The companies that offer dividends generally act as a hedge against economic uncertainty and provide downside protection by offering outsized payouts or sizable yields on a regular basis. While the dividend space has been crowded, ETFs with stocks having a strong history of dividend growth like VIG seem to be good picks. The ETF has AUM of $29.1 billion and trades in volume of 745,000 shares a day on average. It charges 8 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook (read: 5 Dividend Growth ETFs to Fight Trade & Inflation Fears).

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