Safety No More as Defensive Stocks and Low Volatility Lag: Chart

The most popular trade of 2016 is showing more signs of unwinding. Shares in dividend-paying companies in defensive groups -- utility, phone and consumer staples -- are trailing the S&P 500 Index in the third quarter by at least 5 percentage points after outperforming by more than 6 points in the first half. For an exchange-traded fund tracking low-volatility stocks, the drop has worsened in August, as shares outstanding fell for the first time this year and investors pulled cash from the ETF for the first time since January.

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