In the current equities tumult, defensive utilities sector exchange traded funds have been outperforming the broader market.

Since the S&P 500 index’s September 18 high, the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU) has increased 1.2%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has declined 3.7%.

The utilities sector has traditionally acted as a safe-haven play in the equities space. The companies provide stable and steady returns, along with regular dividend payments.

XLU’s “holdings include regulated utilities, diversified utilities, and unregulated power generators, and such companies are known for their reliability and income generation,” according to Morningstar analyst Robert Goldsborough.

Specifically, sub-sector allocations include electric utilities 56.4%, multi-utilities 38.7%, independent power and renewable electricity producers 3.7% and gas utilities 1.2%.

Additionally, XLU provides an attractive dividend yield of 3.61%.

The utilities sector is currently experiencing a boost from income-seekers, with XLU adding $152.1 million in assets since September 18, according to data. After the recent sell-off in the equities market, investors have piled into safer fixed-income assets and pushed down the benchmark 10-year Treasury yields, which dipped almost 30 basis points to 2.33% since the September 18 high.

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