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Can a market that is being led by the two largest sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500 possibly falter? As I watch the action among equities, I am struck by how strong the financial and technology stocks are. These are the two most vital groups to any advance, because they are classic leaders. There are so many financial institutions out there, and so many companies involved in semiconductors, communications and big data -- true hardware -- that it's really difficult to crush the entire stock market with that kind of participation.
Sometimes you have to examine a stock market as if it comprises a series of neighborhoods. Right now the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) and the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF), which define the winners today, are fantastic neighborhoods -- and one of the chief characteristics of great neighborhoods is that a bad house within them will be better than the best in many others.
Consider the fate of two stocks that seemed pretty hopeless before the Federal Reserve announcement Wednesday, which some interpreted as pointing to the relatively imminent end of bond-buying and a rapid turn to interest-rate-raising, perhaps as early as this time next year. Of course, I am using the most negative interpretation of what was really said yesterday, but we do tend to go to extremes when it comes to the Fed.