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Why is the Woolworths share price missing out on the ASX party today?

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Many ASX investors will be rejoicing today after the market opened strongly higher this morning. The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is currently up by 0.99% at just over 7,330 points. This comes after the ASX 200 posted some big falls earlier this week. But one ASX 200 blue-chip share isn’t joining the party today. That would be the Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) share price.

In stark contrast to the enthusiastic rise of the broader market, Woolworths shares are currently up by a rather paltry 0.21% so far today at $37.97 a share after spending most of the morning in the red.

So what’s going on with Woolies? Well, it’s nothing to do with anything Woolworths has put out itself. The company hasn’t made any ASX announcements for weeks now.

But if we look at what’s happening across the market today, we can identify a trend that might explain this situation. Woolworths’ ASX sector – consumer staples – is one of the worst-performing sectors on the ASX today, and one of the few in the red. That’s why many of Woolworths’ peers, including Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL), Metcash Limited (ASX: MTS) and Endeavour Group Ltd (ASX: EDV), are all underperforming the markets so far.

Consumer staples shares are companies that sell food, drinks and household essentials. They are often viewed as a ‘safe harbour’ of sorts when there is fear and selling pressure in the markets. That might explain why Woolworths shares, as well as some of the others listed above, were some of the ASX 200’s best performers when we were seeing those nasty market-wide falls earlier this week, as we covered at the time.

But this trend seems to be cutting both ways today. As the markets recover from the week’s earlier losses, consumer staples shares are being left behind. Perhaps a prescient reminder that safety doesn’t come free on the share market.

At the current Woolworths share price, this ASX 200 blue-chip share has a market capitalisation of $45.99 billion, with a dividend yield of 2.48%. 

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