Friday is shaping up to be another glum day for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and it is fair to say the blue chip index’s 0.6% loss (as of midday trading) would be much worse if not for a 3.4% gain by Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG).
P&G is merely the sixteenth-largest holding in the price-weighted Dow, but after the index fell 2.3% last month, every little bit helps in terms of getting the Dow headed back in the right direction. Earlier Friday, Ohio-based P&G said it will drop up to 100 brands from its stable in an effort to better focus on marquee labels like Gillette and Tide.
The “company reported that overall sales fell 1 percent to $20 billion in the quarter ending June 30, while profits fell 2 percent to $9.5 billion. Core earnings per share rose 20 percent to 95 cents,” according to the New York Times.
That is enough to make P&G just one of five Dow stocks trading higher at this writing. P&G’s Friday pop is also providing some much needed help to struggling consumer staples ETFs. Following a weak July, an array of sector ETFs, including staples funds, entered August looking poised for more downside. That despite the soaring popularity of sector ETFs. Sector ETFs pulled in almost $38 billion in new assets in the first half of this year. [Tactical Investors Pump Billions Into Sector ETFs]
Thanks to P&G, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP) and the Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (NYSEArca: VDC) are the top two sector ETFs Friday, though their gains lag those of industry funds the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDXJ).
XLP, the largest staples ETF, is higher by 0.7% Friday on volume that has already eclipsed the daily average. That move comes at a critical time for XLP. The fund tumbled 3.5% last month, putting additional pressure on XLP to live up to its billing as historically the best of the nine sector SPDRs in the month of August. P&G is XLP’s largest holding. [Conservative ETF Ideas for August]