There are three major ETFs shorts that are used for outright market exposure and portfolio hedging – the Spider S&P 500 ETF (SPY), the iShs Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) and the PwrShs Nasdaq 100 ETF (QQQ). They have been ranked 1-2-3 in short interest balances for as long as they have been active. The remainder of the top ten shorted ETF’s change along with the market – they are comprised of sector, product and regional ETFs that rise and fall in “short” popularity as the need arises.
The iShs MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) jumped into the top ten, leapfrogging the VVectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) which fell into the 11th spot on the league tables. Four of the top ten most profitable ETFs for the week were related to the oil industry as crude prices dipped below $70/barrel for the first time in two weeks. Several yield sensitive ETFs were among the least profitable ETFs for the week as 10 year yields dipped below 3%. Short sellers of the Utilities Select Sector Spider (XLU), iShs D.J. U.S. real Estate ETF (IYR), iShs 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) and the Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ) all had down weeks. In hedge related trades both the Spider S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and the iShs Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) saw a decrease in short interest while the tech heavy PwrShs Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) saw an increase in short exposure as portfolio managers fine-tuned their hedge allocation from the broader market to in favor of tech.
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Managing Director Predictive Analytics, S3 Partners, LLC
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