Staples offer shelter from equity-market storms

Consumer staples stocks have been the stalwart performers of US equities this year, as they play their traditional role of providing refuge in times of extreme market stress.

Large-cap US staples stocks are up 1.6% for the year through May. Along with the phenomenal gains in energy and the comparable resilience in utilities and materials, this buoyant performance helped blunt the impact of the brutal selloff in long-popular technology and consumer discretionary stocks (both down more than 20%), narrowing the Russell 1000 loss to 13.7% for the year to date.

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