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Summer Flight-to-Quality Stocks

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- The trend toward increasing volatility continues to be on the rise for stocks. Since the beginning of May, the VIX, which tracks the implied volatility of the S&P 500 index, has rocketed more than 71% as investors have run from risky stocks in favor of safe alternatives such as money market funds and gold -- a move known as a "flight to quality." But as market participants flee volatile investments, they run the risk of getting into positions that are less than ideal.

With so many different options available for investors looking to limit their portfolio risk, it's no surprise that even unattractive trades are being made for the sake of being "safe." But that doesn't have to happen to you.

Before we take a look at which flight-to-quality investments are attractive right now, we need to take a closer look at the reasons behind putting your money into one of these instruments -- risk reduction isn't the whole story. In 2008, as stocks tumbled significantly, most Wall Street brain trusts predicted that the dollar would fall in kind. It didn't. Instead, it rallied hard in response.

The reason was the flight to quality itself. With scores of investors piling into flight-to-quality investments such as treasuries, the dollar's rise was an unintended consequence. Whenever Wall Street moves to a particular kind of investment en masse, serious short-term gains can ensue for the investors who got in early.

If you're serious about avoiding risk, though, don't even think about stocks. Even the most solid blue chips are highly susceptible to the market's ebb and flow. If you're going to reallocate your portfolio, you might as well do it right.

Without further ado, here's a look at the best flight to quality plays for the summer of 2010.

Gold has long been a favorite play for tough times -- no surprise to most investors. Gold is a hard asset that you can actually take physical delivery of (if you're so inclined), and that's something that investors of all experience levels can relate to. Gold ETFs, such as the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), have become popular options for people who want exposure to the yellow stuff without having to deal with the intricacies of actually buying bullion.
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