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5 ETFs to Combat Current Geopolitical Tensions

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Wall Street saw investors offloading their risky holdings due to intensifying tensions between Ukraine and Russia on Feb 17. Consequently, all the three major indexes declined on the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 1.8%, witnessing its most disappointing daily performance this year. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices also lost around 2.1% and 2.9%, respectively, on the day.

The tensions escalated when President Joe Biden informed that the probability of Russia invading Ukraine is “very high,” along with warning that an attack could be made within “the next several days.” Going on, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations warned that the Russia-Ukraine conflict had hit a “crucial moment” and that the former is moving toward “an imminent invasion,” as mentioned in a CNBC article.

In this regard, Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management, mentioned that “In the short term, the market is just moving to the indications that it’s seeing out of Russia. That negativity and that additional cloud over the market definitely has a lot of weight right now,” per the same article as mentioned above.

Against the backdrop, let’s take a look at some ETFs that can help investors manage the market tantrums stemming from the intensifying Russia-Ukraine tensions:

ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL - Free Report)

Dividend aristocrats are blue-chip dividend-paying companies with a long track record of increasing dividend payments year over year. Moreover, dividend aristocrat funds give investors dividend growth opportunities compared to other products in the space but might not necessarily have the highest yields.

‘Dividend aristocrats’ or ‘dividend growers’ are mostly deemed the smartest way to deal with market turmoil. These products also form a strong portfolio with a higher scope of capital appreciation against simple dividend-paying stocks or those with high yields. As a result, these products deliver an excellent combination of annual dividend growth and capital-appreciation opportunity and are most beneficial to risk-averse long-term investors.

ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF seeks investment results before fees and expenses that track the performance of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index. NOBL is the only ETF focusing exclusively on the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, which are high-quality companies that not just paid out dividends but also raised the same for at least 25 consecutive years, with most doing so for 40 years or more. NOBL amassed $9.76 billion in its asset base. ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF has an expense ratio of 0.35%.

Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC - Free Report)

The consumer staples sector is known for its non-cyclical nature and acts as a safe haven during unstable market conditions. Moreover, like utility, consumer staples is considered a stable sector for the long term as its players are likely to offer decent returns. During an economic recession, investors can consider parking their money in the non-cyclical consumer staples sector. This high-quality sector, which is largely defensive, is found to have a low correlation factor with economic cycles.

Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF seeks to track the performance of the MSCI US Investable Market Consumer Staples 25/50 Index. With AUM of $6.63 billion, VDC has an expense ratio of 10 bps (read: How Has Philip Morris' Q4 Earnings Beat Impacted Staples ETFs?).

Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (SPLV - Free Report)

Demand for funds with “low volatility” or “minimum volatility” generally increases during tumultuous times. These seemingly-safe products usually do not surge in bull market conditions but offer more protection than the unpredictable ones. These funds are less cyclical, providing more stable cash flow than the overall market.

Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF has been providing exposure to stocks with the lowest realized volatility over the past 12 months. The fund is based on the S&P 500 Low Volatility Index and holds 101 securities in its basket. Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF hasAUM of $9.11 billion and charges an expense ratio of 25 basis points, as stated in the prospectus (read: ETF Strategies to Consider for February as Fed's Rate Hike Nears).

iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF (QUAL - Free Report)

Quality stocks are rich in value characteristics with a healthy balance sheet, high return on capital, low volatility and high margins. These stocks also have a track record of stable or increasing sales and earnings growth. Compared to plain vanilla funds, these products help lower volatility and perform better during market uncertainty. Further, academic research has proven that high-quality companies constantly provide better risk-adjusted returns than the broader market over the long term.

iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF provides exposure to the large- and mid-cap stocks exhibiting positive fundamentals (high return on equity, stable year-over-year earnings growth and low financial leverage) by tracking the MSCI USA Sector Neutral Quality Index. With AUM of $22.42 billion, QUAL charges 0.15% of fees (read: 4 ETFs to Invest in on Rising Market Volatility).

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD - Free Report)

Rising geopolitical tensions are supporting the yellow metal. Investors are scurrying for safe-haven assets amid the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Notably, investors generally opt for cash or cash-like investments instead of risky assets like equities while evaluating such situations' economic and financial impact.

This is the largest and most popular ETF in the gold space, with AUM of $60.58 billion. The fund reflects the performance of the price of gold bullion, less the Trust's expenses. At launch, each share of this ETF represented about 1/10th of an ounce of gold. The expense ratio is 0.40% (read: ETF Strategies to Combat Red-Hot Inflation Readings).