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The ETF investor's quandary in today's elevated market

Today's stock market is a bargain hunter's graveyard. Beaten down stocks can be found easily enough. But if you're an investor in exchange traded funds looking to buy individual sectors on the cheap, you're cooked.

The worst-performing sector of the S&P/TSX composite index in the 12 months to late August was materials. You know the story - a weak global economy has depressed demand for the metals that companies in this sector produce, while gold prices have been weak. Poor materials. Up just 7.6 per cent in the past year, making it by far the lamest of the 10 TSX sectors.