The Halloween month has seen one of the scariest stock market gyrations this year.Historically, the month has witnessed some of the most appalling market crashes. The most horrifying of these is the 1987 one, "which saw the S&P 500 lose more than 20 percent of its value in one day ." The 1929 crash and the 2008 financial crisis' acute sell-offs also took place in October (read: October Traditionally Most Volatile: ETFs That Gained ).
This October is no different with stocks crashing mainly on rising rate worries. U.S.-Sino trade tensions and the resultant pressure on global growth, geopolitical issues and uncertainty around mid-terms also complicated issues for Wall Street. Morgan Stanley apprehended acute selling pressure on Wall Street due to " declining liquidity and growing concerns about peaking growth."
Big three U.S. ETFs - SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY , SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF DIA and Invesco QQQ Trust QQQ - have lost about 8.2%, 7.1% and 10.9% this month (as of Oct 30, 2018). However, there are some ETF areas that offered treats to investors instead of tricking them (read: Forget Spooky Market, 4 Halloween ETF Treats for Investors ).
ETF Areas That Gained in October
Volatility has been pretty obvious in the month. iPath B S&P 500 VIX S/T Futures ETN VXXB (up 47.0%), ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures VIXY ) (up 47.4%) and iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN VXX (up 47.4%) gained in the month.
Agricultural commodities had a fair stretch in the month. Among the whole bunch, sugar deserves a special mention. Sugar output in Brazil - one of the top growers - is at the lowest in 12 years due to a " smaller cane crop and higher ethanol production ," per Datagro consultancy.
India, another major producer of sugarcane, is seeing lower production as the Indian Sugar Mills Association has lowered its forecast for the country's sugar output in 2018-19 due to inclement weather conditions. Two ETF gainers were iPath B Bloomberg Sugar Subindex Total Return ETN SGGB (up 15.3%) and Teucrium Sugar ETF CANE (up 13.7%).
Apart from this, the overall agri-space performed better in the month with Invesco DB Agriculture DBA (up 2.3%) being in the positive territory. iPath Bloomberg Cocoa ETN NIB gained about 12.5% in October.
Brazilian ETFs started rallying on the win of far-right and investor friendly candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the first round of Brazil's presidential election held on Oct 7. He became the president of the country on Oct 28, having defeated leftist Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad with 55% of the votes.
He has already been pushing for the existing administration to rework the pension bill before his inauguration on Jan 1, per Wall Street Journal. iShares MSCI Brazil Small-Cap ETF EWZS is up 23.7% past month and VanEck Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF BRF has gained about 23.9%. iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF EWZ is up 19.8% in October (as of Oct 30, 2018) (read: What EM Shock? Brazil ETFs Soar on Election Optimism ).
Investors who wanted to shift focus to low-beta stocks during this uncertain market environment considered adding BTAL to their portfolio. The fund follows the Dow Jones U.S. Thematic Market Neutral Anti-Beta Index. The index identifies the lowest beta stocks and goes long on them, while at the same time going short on the highest beta stocks (read: 5 Defensive ETFs to Survive Global Market Rout ).
Forecast of below-average temperatures and the need for heating boosted natural gas futures in October. iPath Bloomberg Natural Gas ETN GAZB (up 5.4%) and United States Natural Gas UNG are up 1.4% in October (as of Oct 30, 2018).
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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report SPDR-DJ IND AVG (DIA): ETF Research Reports ISHARS-BRAZIL (EWZ): ETF Research Reports PRO-VIX ST FUT (VIXY): ETF Research Reports IPATH-BB COCO (NIB): ETF Research Reports PWRSH-DB AGRIC (DBA): ETF Research Reports ISHARS-MS BR SC (EWZS): ETF Research Reports TEUCRM-SUGAR FD (CANE): ETF Research Reports VANECK-BRZL SC (BRF): ETF Research Reports IPATH-SP5 VX ST (VXX): ETF Research Reports NASDAQ-100 SHRS (QQQ): ETF Research Reports SPDR-SP 500 TR (SPY): ETF Research Reports IPATHBB-SUGR SI (SGGB): ETF Research Reports US-NATRL GAS FD (UNG): ETF Research Reports IPATHB-SP5 VXST (VXXB): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report