If investors are nervous that a market correction is ahead, where should they go?
Ordinarily, the question is not a difficult one to answer. Boring, high-yielding utilities stocks trade like a mix between stocks and bonds, and thus are seen as providing protection in times of market turmoil. But after soaring in 2014 as yields fell, the sector is likely to fall if rates rise this year.
Similarly, little protection can be found in bonds themselves. One of the big concerns for stocks this year is that the Federal Reserve will soon hike rates—a move that should hurt bond prices even more than it hurts stock prices. Gold, too, often trades inversely to yields.
Faced with this predicament, many investors have turned to the stable-sounding consumer staples stocks. Valuations in names like Colgate-Palmolive and Coca-Cola have risen considerably as a result, but that poses a problem.