It's also not a great sign that much of the gains have come in the beaten-down stocks of 2011 -- have things really gotten that much better for Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) and Bank of America (BAC - Get Report)? -- but this is more quibbling than anything else.
Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo, thinks the U.S. stock market has become something of a safe haven for global investors "because our economy is believed to be more stable and our publicly traded companies' performance is more dependable."
Like everyone else, Wren is wondering how long this rally can last with the Dow Jones Industrial Average getting within shouting distance of 13,000 intraday on Thursday and the S&P 500 setting up to test the highs seen last May.
"Our best guess is that the market will take a time-out over the next several months after the recent run higher," he wrote. "Longer-term investors are still advised to accumulate stocks as valuations are attractive in our opinion. Traders, on the other hand, should consider taking some money off the table as the market tests the 2011 highs."After enduring the extreme swings that plagued the market from August on in 2011, investors are understandably getting excited about this slow, steady surge. But it's always worth reevaluating when everyone seems to be running in the same direction. Bespoke Investment Group had this advice for fence sitters. "Investors who remain risk averse but are still looking to dip their toes in the water and gain some exposure to equities should consider high quality dividend paying stocks," the firm said Thursday. "To some, this may sound like last year's trade, but there are still many stocks out there that provide better yields than Treasuries and have payouts that most would consider to be safe." Meantime, the performance of Apple (AAPL - Get Report), both the stock and the company, is a reason to like this rally, and the shares turned in an impressive 3.5% gain on Thursday, closing at $493.17 and hitting a new all-time high of $496.75 along the way. AllThingsD reported that the company could unveil the next-generation iPad in March, and there was also some positive analyst chatter to support the move.