Abandoning stocks because of this crisis would be a mistake, however. Sticking with the market generally is rewarded in the end.
One relatively safe bet in the market is companies that make products and provide services that people buy no matter how bad the economy gets.
Think food companies, drug store chains, tobacco companies and makers of things like laundry detergent and toothpaste. These companies are up a respectable 2.6 percent over the last three months. The S&P 500 is down 4.3 percent.
Or you could stick to companies that pay high dividends — in many cases, more than double the 1.6 percent that 10-year Treasury notes are paying. Look for the dividend yield — how much a company pays per share per year divided by the stock price.
Telecommunications stocks, such as cellphone providers, have an average dividend yield of 4.8 percent, best among the stock groups in the S&P 500. Utilities have an average dividend yield of 4.2 percent. For the whole S&P 500, it's 2.4 percent.
That's one reason the Dow Jones utility average is up a strong 4.8 percent since the start of April.
AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode in New York contributed to this report.
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