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An ETF Strategy for a Volatile Second Quarter

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors can expect continued volatility in the second quarter as short-term news -- mixed economic data and unimpressive corporate revenue -- keep a cap on what I see as longer-term positive growth.

The pace of global economic growth will continue to accelerate and consumer sentiment will remain strong. Couple those with continued low-interest rates and loose monetary policy, investors are right to expect stocks to continue to rise. As such, remaining invested while managing risk and portfolio volatility will remain critical.

Selecting the right exchange-traded funds will help the investor play defense in this environment. It's hard to believe but the ETF is just 20 years old. Since Barclays introduced its first ETF in the iShares Portfolio, they've become both incredibly broad in scope and finite in scope.

The ones I'm recommending for the second quarter this year -- and, frankly, for the year -- are low-cost, have good track records, low volatility and contain high-quality growth names.

Investors who want exposure to the S&P 500 with a little less risk might want to consider the Guggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP). Because this ETF weighs its holdings equally, as opposed to by market capitalization such as the S&P 500 Index, the risk of one of the larger holdings within the index unduly impacting performance are eliminated. Apple (AAPL), the index's largest holding, continues to underperform.

RSP has an 11 year-track record, low expenses and is easy to understand -- all important criteria to selecting any investment. Over the past decade, RSP has handily beaten the S&P 500 with a near 10% annual return compared to 6.4% for the index. To further manage risk, the ETF is rebalanced on a quarterly basis.

The top sectors within RSP are Consumer Discretionary, Financials and Technology; all of which I'm bullish on, in particular the consumer discretionary sector. Speaking of which, as I look ahead into the second quarter, I expect to see a pickup in inflation for both producer prices and consumer prices.

If I'm right, investing in companies that have pricing power that are able to pass any cost increases along to its customers will prove important. Here, I like the State Street SPDR Consumer Discretionary ETF (XLY). The largest sector holdings in XLY are focused in the Media, Specialty Retail and Hotel & Restaurant areas, all of which have a positive outlook. Among the top holdings are Walt Disney (DIS), Amazon (AMZN) and McDonald's (MCD).

Over the past decade XLY has proven less volatile than the S&P 500 and has handily outperformed the index, in particular over the past five years as the world exited the financial crash. Moreover, at 0.16% XLY is one of the least expensive ways to get exposure to some of today's best consumer companies.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

The author and/or his firm may hold positions in equities mentioned.

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