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6 ETF Picks for September

Sanghamitra Saha
PEBO vs. FIBK: Which Stock Is the Better Value Option?

As we exited a lukewarm August and stepped into the final month of Q3, the investing cohort must have shifted its focus to the likely market movement in September. This is especially true given the month’s cursed seasonality in the equity market.

September is historically the worst month of the year for stocks. According to moneychimp.com, a consensus carried out from 1950 to 2016 has revealed that September ended up offering positive returns in 29 years and negative returns in 38 years, with an average return of negative 0.67%, which is worse than any month.

Undesirable financial events like the start of the Great Depression in 1929 or the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 all crept up in the month of September. Even this September bears the risk of considerable negative changes to the market in case geopolitical tensions between North Korea and the U.S. heighten, and political uncertainty in the United States related to tax reforms and government shutdown escalates.

All these make it more important to pin point ETFs that could safeguard investors from any steep and sudden market swing as well as lead them to some gains.

PowerShares QQQ QQQ">QQQ

September may be ill reputed in terms of stock returns, but this time the month opened up with a deluge of upbeat data points. First, at the end of August, the Commerce Department released Q2 economic growth data of 3% compared with its earlier estimate of 2.6%. This was the best GDP growth since first-quarter 2015 (read: Top ETF Stories of August).

And at the start of September, data showed that U.S. manufacturing expanded in August at the quickest clip since 2011. This calls for growth investing. We are thus bullish on Nasdaq-100 ETF QQQ. Nasdaq Composite has already registered the largest weekly gain of the year on signs of economic strength and a bounce in biotech shares.


Biotech ETFs, especially those with a focus on cancer therapy, staged a great show in August in particular on Gilead’s GILD buyout announcement of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Kite Pharma KITE.  Plus, a CAR-T treatment — a type of gene therapy for cancer —has been approved for use in the United States lately. All these developments in the biotech sphere should bode well for the related ETFs (read: Biotech ETFs Soar on Gilead-Kite Deal).

VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF SMH

The usage of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple are on a tear. Following its immense price rise, Burger King has also jumped into this area with the launch of its own virtual coin called "WhopperCoin" in Russia (read: Bitcoin ETFs: More Issuers Join the Race).

Since mining of cryptocurrencies needs the usage of semiconductors, this part of the technology sector should perform well in September. In any case, semiconductor is the value-centric traditional tech area that is likely to have an upper hand in an edgy investing environment. Moreover, the semiconductor space is consolidating rapidly with a number of deals announced lately.

iShares Edge MSCI Multifactor Global ETF ACWF

Since U.S. equities have a record of underperformance in the month, investors can have a look at the global ETF. This way, investors can mitigate certain risks. Notably, the global economy is on an upward trajectory. And the fund looks to track the global developed and emerging market large- and mid-cap stocks chosen on the basis of value, quality, momentum, and low-size scores (read: Global Dividend Payments Upbeat in Q2: ETFs to Benefit).

WisdomTree Europe Small-Cap Dividend ETF DFE

The Euro zone economic growth has looked up this year. The region grew 0.6% sequentially in Q2 following 0.5% expansion in the previous period. Despite this positive sentiment, a rising euro might be a deterrent. So, we have chosen a small-cap Europe ETF — DFE — which is less susceptible to a rising euro.

Small-caps better reflect the uptick in the domestic economy. And with the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield loitering under 2.2%, it would be intriguing to go for a higher-yielding pick. The fund yields about 2.66% annually.

iShares S&P Moderate Allocation Fund AOM

Finally, we would like to pick a full-fledged defensive ETF like AOM. The fund takes a fund-of-funds approach and is a combination of bonds and global stocks. Equities make up about 45% of the fund followed by 26% government or Treasury bonds. The U.S. accounts for about 62% of the portfolio while Japan (5.7%) and the U.K. (4%) take the next two spots.