Kensho Stats

These ETFs still win during a market sell-off

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Volatility is surging as the market posted its worst decline of the year on Tuesday.

Investors are increasingly concerned over the chances that President Donald Trump's promised pro-growth agenda makes it through Congress. How can investors trade the rising volatility using history as a guide?

The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices, according to the CBOE. The VIX was up more than 10 percent as of midafternoon Tuesday.

CBOE Volatility Index chart, one year

Source: FactSet

CNBC Pro screened for which ETF securities will move if the VIX continues to rally to the 16 to 17 level of last fall, using hedge fund analytics tool Kensho.

There were 39 instances of the VIX rising 30 percent or more in one month during the last decade, according to Kensho.

Investors traditionally flock to the safety of U.S. government securities in times of market stress. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF provides exposure to the Treasury debt market and is the top performer.

Precious metals also do relatively well. Gold-related ETFs such as the SPDR Gold Trust and iShares Gold Trust outperform as they are often used as a safe haven by investors.

Consumer staples and health care do hold value, but they can't totally escape the market volatility as both sectors trade down moderately.

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