Last Updated Sep 9, 2011 3:38 PM EDT
The S&P 500 is off about 8 percent so far in 2011, mostly because of the financial sector. Of the 10 major sectors in the S&P 500, financials are off more than 20 percent year to date, according to S&P data. The crisis in the euro zone is largely to blame.
After financials, the industrials and materials sectors have been the worst performers, logging double-digit percent declines so far this year. Fears of a slowdown in the global economy (and a couple years of strong outperformance) have weighed heavily on these macroeconomically sensitive areas.
Here's how the major sectors have fared this year as of Sept. 8:
On the other side of the ledger, three classic defensive sectors have produced positive returns so far in 2011. Health care and consumer staples are up more than 4 percent on a price basis, while boring old utilities have gained nearly 6 percent.
If the remainder of the year plays out like the first three quarters have gone, continued weighting toward defensive sectors will be the way to go in your U.S. equity portfolio.