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Don't 'swing for the fences' in stocks: Farr

Markets seem to be moving higher no matter what, and that bothers strategist Michael Farr.

"I'm worried because I think markets haven't been able to really find any bad news anywhere. We're still in a psychologically positive stage where we're just shirking off bad news," the founder and CEO of Farr, Miller & Washington told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

Farr said China's nearly 5.5 percent stock slide on Friday — the biggest since the summer sell-off — should have dragged down U.S. futures. He further noted the Dow closed up nearly 240 points the Monday following deadly terror attacks in Paris.

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In addition to those events, Farr said the breadth of the market is flashing warning signs. According to his firm's research, the top 20 performers in the S&P 500 are up 59 percent this year, but the remaining 480 stocks in the index are down 3 percent on average.

"You're seeing that leadership kind of narrow, and we're not seeing a broad-based rally," he said.

Farr advised investors to stay defensive and resist the temptation to take on risk simply because they haven't been penalized throughout a more than six-year bull run. Health care and consumer staples are good places to be, he said.

"I think I would try and keep my money safe — good dividend stocks — and don't swing for the fences when the breadth is narrowing," he said.

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The Santa Claus rally — the tendency for equities to rise in December — came early in October, Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust, said Friday. While the path for stocks is still upward into year-end, the move will be modest, he told "Squawk Box."

However, that doesn't mean traders are ready to hang up their hats.

"You have a lot of active managers, hedge funds, active mutual funds that have underperformed. They can't afford to be on the sidelines right now. They have to be in there participating," he said.

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