Bullish traders are already eschewing safe-haven assets in favor of risky equity plays, but for those who are still wary of a market pullback, consumer staples exchange traded funds are a low-risk way to dip one’s toes into stocks.

For example, Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP) tracks large and stable brands like Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Philip Morris (NYSE: PM) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT). The fund covers all the non-cyclical plays like food & staples, beverages, household products, tobacco, food products and personal products.

XLP has gained 2.4% over the past three months. In comparison, SPDR Consumer Staples Discretionary Select Sector Fund (NYSEArca: XLY) has lost 1.4% over the last three months as the markets faltered on Eurozone debt worries. XLY is more sensitive to shifts in sentiment and the economy than the consumer staples ETF.

This defensive staples sector is often favored in tough times for the economy because the companies’ products are necessities.

“XLP is a defensive holding because consumers buy toilet paper, razors, bandages, and baby food regardless of the economic climate,” according to Morningstar analyst Robert Goldsborough.

“The news has been decent on the demand side for many consumer companies, with continued solid consumer spending. Reports show that consumers are continuing to spend, despite concerns about future inflation, higher fuel prices and still-high unemployment,” Goldsborough said in a research note.

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