ETFs to Suffer as March's ISM Manufacturing Index Disappoints

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be seen in the manufacturing sector that makes around 11% of the U.S. economy. Accordingly, the latest report on U.S. manufacturing, released by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), failed to cheer investors. The ISM’s national factory activity index came in at 49.1 in March comparing unfavorably with 50.1 in February. It, however, came in better than analysts’ expectations of the reading of 45.0, per a Reuters’ poll. Notably, readings below 50% indicate contraction.

The new orders sub-index declined to 42.2 (the lowest since March 2009) from 49.8 in February. Moreover, there was a decline from 46.9 to 43.8 in the measure of factory employment. Manufacturers also informed about paying less for raw materials and other inputs. Timothy Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management, said that “the coronavirus pandemic and shocks in global energy markets have impacted all manufacturing sectors” (read: Play These ETF Strategies as Dow Posts Worst Q1 on Record).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average witnessed its worst quarterly performance since 1987, largely due to the coronavirus-led sell-offs. The blue-chip index lost more than 23% of its value in first-quarter 2020, as the pandemic tightened its grip on countries outside mainland China. Seeing the biggest quarterly loss since 2008, the S&P 500 also depreciated 20% in the worst first quarter, followed by a 14% decline of the Nasdaq Composite.

Coronavirus & the U.S. Economy

The United States has recorded more than 216,500 cases, with a death toll of more than 5,100. The top U.S. government scientists have estimated that even if the current social-distancing guidelines are maintained, the country will likely see around 100,000-240,000 deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. To combat this, President Trump extended the federal government’s guidelines for social distancing until Apr 30. The outbreak has disrupted global supply chains and economic activities. Manufacturers are struggling with distorted supply chains and logistics, especially those belonging to industries like computers and electronics, fabricated metal and chemical.

The job market is also likely to be severely hit as Americans are increasingly filing claims for unemployment benefits. Per the report released by the Labor Department on Mar 26, U.S. unemployment claims surged to a record 3.28 million last week (ending Mar 20). The number surpassed the count of 695,000 that was recorded during the financial crisis.

With elevated unemployment levels, the spending capacity of consumers will, undoubtedly, be compromised to a large extent. The latest reports on U.S. consumer sentiment show that the metric dropped to nearly a three-and-a-half-year low in March, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus outbreak (read: ETFs at Risk as US Consumer Sentiment Hits Near 3.5-Year Low).

Industrial ETFs in Line of Fire

Against this backdrop, investors can still keep a tab of the following ETFs (see all industrial ETFs here):

The Industrial Select Sector SPDR Fund XLI — down 30.8% year to date

The fund tracks the Industrial Select Sector Index (read: ETFs to Gain as Wall Street Cheers US Stimulus Package).

AUM: $6.55 billion

Expense Ratio: 0.13%

Vanguard Industrials ETF VIS — down 31.7%

The fund tracks the MSCI US Investable Market Index (IMI) Industrials 25/50 index.

AUM: $2.33 billion

Expense Ratio: 0.10%

iShares U.S. Industrials ETF IYJ — down 29.5%

The fund tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Industrials Index (read: Join the Wall Street Rally With Industrial ETFs).

AUM: $591.4 million

Expense Ratio: 0.42%

Fidelity MSCI Industrials Index ETF FIDU — down 31.2%

The fund tracks the MSCI USA IMI Industrials Index.

AUM: $270.7 million

Expense Ratio: 0.08%

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Vanguard Industrials ETF (VIS): ETF Research Reports
Industrial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLI): ETF Research Reports
Fidelity MSCI Industrials Index ETF (FIDU): ETF Research Reports
iShares U.S. Industrials ETF (IYJ): ETF Research Reports
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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