As the Fed eventually hikes interest rates, the higher rates will make fixed-income instruments more attractive on a relative basis, and bond-like equities, like utilities, less enticing. Consequently, utilities may remain flat or underperform other segments of the equities market once rates start ticking higher.
No sector is as negatively correlated to rising interest rates as utilities, meaning the longer the Fed resists raising interest rates, the longer high-yielding utilities stocks and ETFs remain compelling destinations for yield-starved investors.
“As to the best ETFs to own during the week of a Fed meeting, it’s no surprise to find the Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLU) near the top of the list. Shares of XLU have ended the week higher 68% of the time, going back to 2015, with an average weekly return of 0.89%. However, metal-based ETFs tend to perform even better, likely because tangible assets are often seen as “safe haven” investments and inflationary hedges,” according to Schaeffer’s.
XLU, the largest utilities ETF by assets, is higher by 10.6% year-to-date.
For more information on defensive ETFs, visit our defensive ETF category.