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Let the S&P 500 Guide Your Stock Picks

Stocks in this article: SCHW

SAN FRANCISCO ( TheStreet) -- With the Dow dropping below 10,000 earlier this month, investors are experiencing that all-too-familiar sinking feeling in the pits of their stomachs again. Should they give in to recessionary flashbacks and make changes to their investment portfolios?

Brad Sorensen, sector analyst for Charles Schwab's (SCHW) Center for Investment Research, sees the 10,000 yardstick as mostly psychological. Still, it's a wise to reconsider your portfolio's asset allocation.

With the stocks down this year, investors are trying to shore up their 401(k)s and other retirement accounts. Before you shift your portfolio to cash, consider taking a simpler approach by aligning your equity investments with the S&P 500 Index, Sorensen says.

"The rally that we've seen since March 2009 was probably a little overdone and due for a bit of a pullback," he says. "I didn't see any real panic or panic selling, but what it did do was to again remind investors that it's important to check on your portfolio and rebalance occasionally."

Sorensen recommends that you consider not just the broad allocation of your assets, but the granular details of the funds that constitute the stock portion, adjusting your strategy sector-by-sector. Investors often overlook the industry breakdowns in their portfolios, which can be detrimental to long-term results, he says.

In a recent advisory to Schwab customers, Sorensen urged them to analyze their allocations to 10 sectors (consumer staples, financials, energy, health care, industrials, information technology, materials, telecommunications, utilities and consumer discretionary) and adjust the ratios so that they follow the model of the S&P 500. For example, investors should have 15% of their equity holdings in financial companies because that's the industry's weighting in the benchmark.

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