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Staples stocks are comparably valued to their consumer discretionary peers, but some market observers argue that possible increases in household debt would make staples more attractive while wage growth would likely benefit both consumer sectors.

Also boding poorly for staples is the fact that cyclical sectors, such as industrials and technology, have been market leaders for the past several months. That could be a sign investors are comfortable with higher beta groups over defensive equivalents.

Rivals to XLP include the Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (NYSEArca: VDC) and the Fidelity MSCI Consumer Staples Index ETF (NYSEArca: FSTA).

For more information on the consumer sector, visit our consumer staples category.