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Thursday's Market Action: Rates rise, stocks don't

My two favorite bearish plays have had a good run the last few days. The ProShares UltraShort QQQ (QID) and the ProShares UltraShort Real Estate (SRS) ETFs have been the only glimmer of pleasure in the portfolio lately.

I posted over the weekend that I was struggling with the idea of hanging onto QID in the face of the latest set of new highs on the major averages. I am glad that I did. The precipitous drop in the NASDAQ bears out my fears that the current rally was over-extended. The rise in interest rates and the realization that a market supported by liquidity was vulnerable to rate increases took its toll the last few days. With QQQQ well below its 20-day moving average and close to its 50-day, the chart is looking weak.

As for SRS, it more or less tracks the iShares Dow Jones Real Estate Index (IYR). And, boy, does the IYR chart look bad! Rising rates are a killer for real estate, even REITs, and IYR is certainly taking it on the chin. Having fallen below a trend line a few weeks ago, it had recently rallied based on the buyout of the Archstone-Smith REIT by Tishman Speyer Properties and Lehman Brothers for $22.2 billion. The rally lost steam as it rose to meet the resistance level represented by the previously broken trend line. With the recent interest rate situation, IYR has dived back down. And SRS was up over $5 today.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a bit of a dead cat bounce in QQQQ and IYR Friday. But it seems market sentiment has shifted and now the glass is half full.

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