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'Wall Street South' Sees Economic Turnaround

This city named for a queen has stock returns fit for a king.

Jumper | Photodisc | Getty Images

Shares of Charlotte, North Carolina-based companies recovered nicely from a sharp downturn a few years ago, performing with an average return of 21 percent over the 52 week period ending October 31, 2012. (Read More: CNBC's 'Philly Index')

That gave Charlotte a slight edge past Philadelphia and pushed it to the title of the second best performer in CNBC's "Recovery Road Trip" 23 city stock indexes.

Affectionately called "Wall Street South," Charlotte got a big bump from the fed, housing and an economic turnaround.

Bank of America, while still far from its pre-recession highs, had a solid turn off its lows. Meantime Lowe's has housing hopium to thank for its big run.

Lowe's was the best performer in our index as more people opened their wallets to fix up their houses.

Last quarter's earnings jumped 76 percent from the same quarter last year at the retailer.

art of the fun of creating these city indexes was also to find the smaller, more under-the-radar names that may not get the attention of the big boys — but whose name you should know nonetheless.

That's the case with Charlotte-area companies like Carlisle Companies, SPX and Sonic Automotive . Family Dollar also provided a nice push.

Carlisle is an interesting story in its own right. CEO David Roberts believes manufacturing can be done better, and possibly even cheaper, in America than in China. (Read More: What Cities Have Been Best for the Market?)

He's closing factories there and will open three manufacturing facilities in the United States over the next two years.

Privately-held Nascar certainly gives the Charlotte area a special jump start, and with 90 percent of race teams based within an hour of the city, it is estimated stock car racing provides a direct and indirect economic injection into the billions of dollars.

We also want to thank the good folks in Charlotte for letting us do the show from their awesome Hall of Fame.

—By CNBC's Brian Sullivan
@SullyCNBC

There's only one city left to highlight: the winner. Join CNBC's "Street Signs" Wednesday at 2pm ET when we pull back the curtain on the city that can claim bragging rights.

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