The bulls see no reason to relent in our weekly survey of market direction.

For the 13th week in a row, bulls ruled in the TheStreet.com RealMoney Barometer poll. And they did it in a week with more than 2,000 people voting.

The bulls captured 46%, or 953, of the 2,071 votes cast. Neutral sentiment was at 27%, or 569 votes. The bears took 26%, or 549 votes.

Sectorwise, biotech was tapped as the most likely to rise this week, while integrated oil was seen as most likely to fall. Biotech has enjoyed the spotlight recently during the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, and crude oil prices have taken a pounding, as have energy stocks.

Stocks were trading lower on Monday, but off their earlier lows. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 22 points to 12,376; the Nasdaq Composite was about flat, at 2,434.40, and the S&P 500 was down near 2 points, to 1,408.08. Crude oil futures were trading down 61 cents to $55.70 a barrel.

Stocks faltered on Friday when the December nonfarm payrolls number showed surprisingly strong growth. Stocks tend to react negatively to any economic reports that suggest the Fed would be disinclined to cut interest rates.

Several mergers were in the news, including Forest Oil ( FST), which said it plans to buy Houston Exploration ( THX) for about $1.5 billion in stock and cash. Forest will also assume $100 million of Houston Exploration's net debt.

General Electric ( GE) said it will take over Vetco Gray, a Houston-based oil and gas fields equipment supplier, for about $1.9 billion. Vetco Gray is a subsidiary of Vetco International Ltd, which is owned by private equity firms Candover, 3i Group and JPMorgan Partners.

Elsewhere, United Surgical Partners ( USPI) agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of buyout firm Welsh Carson for $31.05 a share in cash, or $1.38 billion. The deal offers a 13% premium to Friday's closing stock price for Dallas-based United Surgical, a manager of short-stay surgical facilities.

Below are the complete results.

Date Bullish Bearish Neutral Week Ending
S&P % Change
Bullish
Sector
Bearish Sector
Jan. 8 953 (46%) 549 (26%) 569 (27%) Biotechnology Integrated Oil
Jan. 3 543 (54%) 186 (18%) 276 (27%) - 0.6% Precious Metals Homebuilding
Dec. 26 194 (37%) 179 (34%) 156 (29%) + 0.5% Precious Metals Homebuilding
Dec. 18 405 (61%) 114 (17%) 145 (22%) - 1.1% Integrated Oil Homebuilding

Sector Total Votes Percentage
Aerospace and Defense 74 4%
Airlines 91 4%
Automobiles 23 1%
Beverages and Food Products 46 2%
Biotechnology 187 9%
Commercial Banks 63 3%
Computers and Peripherals 137 7%
Consumer Nondurables 44 2%
Energy Equipment & Services 139 7%
HMOs and Hospitals 30 1%
Homebuilding 34 2%
Insurance 30 1%
Integrated Oil 168 8%
Internet, Software Services 148 7%
Investment Bankers and Brokers 124 6%
Media 19 1%
Multiline Retail 32 2%
Pharmaceuticals 103 5%
Precious Metals 110 5%
Semis, Semi Equipment 91 4%
Telecom Equipment 111 5%
Tobacco and Alcohol 97 5%
Utilities 89 4%
Wireless Communications 72 3%
Source: RealMoney.com

Sector Total Votes Percentage
Aerospace and Defense 33 2%
Airlines 92 4%
Automobiles 139 7%
Beverages and Food Products 14 1%
Biotechnology 27 1%
Commercial Banks 59 3%
Computers and Peripherals 54 3%
Consumer Nondurables 25 1%
Energy Equipment & Services 223 11%
HMOs and Hospitals 21 1%
Homebuilding 272 13%
Insurance 16 1%
Integrated Oil 356 17%
Internet, Software Services 26 1%
Investment Bankers and Brokers 37 2%
Media 32 2%
Multiline Retail 77 4%
Pharmaceuticals 63 3%
Precious Metals 251 12%
Semis, Semi Equipment 47 2%
Telecom Equipment 49 2%
Tobacco and Alcohol 24 1%
Utilities 52 3%
Wireless Communications 67 3%
Source: RealMoney.com
David Morrow is editor-in-chief of TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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