NEW YORK (AP) — Financial markets rarely stick to the script, and this year is no different.
Investments traditionally considered safe bets such as utilities, gold and government bonds were supposed to flop in 2014 as investors started to pour money into higher-risk, higher-growth stocks that would benefit from a pickup in the economy.
Instead, these safe investments are among the year’s best performers. Utilities, for example, are up more than twice as much as the next-best sector in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
The surprisingly strong returns from these so-called havens are happening for several reasons. In the U.S., a severe winter slowed the economy, and a slump in trendy technology stocks has undermined prices. From overseas, worries about China’s economy are growing and chaos in Ukraine has increased global political tensions. Those drags on the market have left the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq composite off 1.2 percent for the year. The S&P 500, meanwhile, has eked out a gain of 1.5 percent.
Safe and steady assets have fared much better.