Cyclical stocks and sector-related exchange traded funds are pushing ahead while safer, low-beta areas begin to fall behind.

For instance, the Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLK) rose 4.4%, Industrial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLI) increased 3.3% and Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLB) rose 5.3% month-to-date, according to CNBC.

The technology, industrial and materials companies are among cyclical sectors that typically strengthen in a rising rate environment as investors turn away from safer assets and shift into riskier areas of the market.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields have increased almost 35 basis points to 1.988% so far this month. The sudden change in sentiment over February has fueled a return to high-beta, or more volatile, stocks. [If Treasury Yields Rise, Consider These Sector ETFs]

For example, XLK has a 0.98 beta reading, XLI has a 1.2 beta and XLB has a 1.26 beta. In contrast, the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU), which was the only sector to dip in February, falling 2.5%, has the lowest beta reading of 0.32.

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