The materials sector has lead stocks higher in the most recent upswing that began in late August. The Materials Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLB), is up 15% since August 26 compared to 11% for the S&P 500 over the same time period.
After a strong start in 2010, Materials ETFs lead last week’s market retreat. The Materials Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLB) fell nearly 8% in last week’s sell-off that saw the broader market decline nearly 5% in three days.
Agri-giant Monsanto’s stock price has lead materials stocks to underperform the broader market. Monsanto is down 11% since August 27 while the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)was essentially flat over the same period.
With the US equity market recently hitting a new 52-week low, investors are still waiting for the market to bottom out.
Investors can gain exposure to agriculture through several ETFs that differ by asset class and concentration levels.