Investors have good reason to feel whipsawed this year considering the VIX, or so-called fear index, has been bouncing off levels not seen since last summer’s market meltdown. Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF & mutual fund research at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility ETF (USMV) is a smart play for nervous investors. 'It’s well diversified across the major sectors, so you will still have some technology and consumer exposure, but you will be a little bit more defensive,' said Rosenbluth. 'And it’s held up quite well in this volatile market.' The USMV is down 1% so far this year compared to a 6% drop in the S&P 500. The VIX has jumped from below 20 at the start of 2016 to as high as 28 last week before dropping down to 21 on Friday. Rosenbluth also suggested conservative investors check out the PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (SPLV), which is down 1.5% year-to-date. The SPLV tracks an index consisting of the 100 least volatile stocks within the broader S&P 500 index.Watch the TheStreet's full interview with S&P's Todd Rosenbluth.
Here are charts of USMV, SPLV and SPHD (I didn't include NOBL because it didn't perform that well) versus the S&P 500 since December 2014 and November 2015. Look how these low volatility ETFs outperformed the S&P 500 since its peak on November 3, 2015. You actually made money on SPHD, the PowerShares S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF.