So far in 2015, the best-performing sector within the large-cap S&P 500 index has been health care. It has also held that positive momentum over the past 12 months as well, handily beating out both technology and consumer discretionary stocks during that span.
Meanwhile, the worst-performing sector in 2015 has been utilities, which has fallen off relatively sharply given concerns over rising interest rates. Utilities and other big dividend-paying stocks often see weakness when interest rates are expected to increase, because as rates rise, the relative attractiveness of heftier dividend yields diminishes.
The market could see a change in sector leadership during the month of April, at least if recent history has anything to say about it. According to market data and analytics firm Kensho, over the last 10 years, April has been kinder to utilities investors than health care investors.
Among major S&P 500 sector-tracking exchange-traded funds, the Utilities Select Sector SPDR has managed to post an average April gain of 3.4 percent over the last decade, and has not had a losing month. In other words, the utilities ETF is riding a streak of 10 straight Aprils without a loss.
It's worth noting the study showed that the Financial Select Sector SPDR produced the best average April gain of 3.5 percent, but was positive just 70 percent of the time, compared to the unblemished 10-year run for utilities.