Trader Talk

Here's how the market tone is shifting in December

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The market's tone is changing.

In November the investment theme was to buy sector winners that stood to benefit from President-elect Donald Trump's administration, like banks and industrials. Right after the election, there was an extraordinary shift into those sectors as well as materials, as investors pulled out of utilities, real estate and consumer staples. For example, financials outperformed utilities by an extraordinary 20 percent in the three weeks after the election.

That is now changing. The December market theme has become generic growth for 2017. Stocks are continuing to advance but the advances are more even, with even lagging sectors doing better. This month, consumer staples have performed better, while on Wednesday lagging groups like telecoms and real estate—and even technology —are stronger.

Throw in a seasonally strong period for the year, and you can get slow "melt-ups." As of late trading on Wednesday, there are over 340 new highs on the NYSE today, which haven't been seen in a while (there's a little less than 2,500 stocks listed at the NYSE).

There are new highs being set, concentrated in industrials and financials, but the list is now broadening. Several new records have been set in consumer discretionary (Kohl's, Best Buy, Marriott, Host Hotels), and materials (Nucor).