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Steady market strength from tech, banks breaking out

I just came back from a few days off in Colorado, and the market looks very much like I left it a week ago.

Strength in technology and banks is still the biggest story.

Everyone knows that the big tech stocks Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Intel — have all hit new highs, along with the NASDAQ.

But the tech rally is much broader than that. Among the tech ETFs, the Dow Jones Internet Index has hit historic highs, while cloud computing, cybersecurity and robotics and automation ETFs have hit at least 52-week highs.

Bank of America Corp. ATMs outside of the Bank of America Plaza tower in Los Angeles, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Banks have led the market the entire quarter, up nearly 11 percent. They've been market leaders ever since early July, as the group rose going into JPMorgan's better-than-expected numbers and commentary on July 14 and have not looked back.

Though higher interest rates have not materialized, banks have benefited from a small improvement in loan growth and fees, which for some banks are now 40 percent of revenues.

There may be an additional factor in the banks' rise this quarter: The presidential election. Banks are the top performing industry from Labor Day to Election Day for the past six presidential cycles, according to Kensho. As a group, they've risen five of the last six presidential cycles with a mean beta-adjusted return of 6 percent. That means the excess return over the S&P 500 has been 6 percent. Quite a difference.

Zions, BNY Mellon, KeyCorp, and Wells Fargo have particularly stood out during these periods.

Banks this quarter

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Wall Street