Tech and consumer discretionary are neck and neck as top performers this year. Here’s which one will win the race

It's a close race this year between Wall Street's best-performing sectors: technology and consumer discretionary. Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray, says one sector takes the lead.

"The winning horse at this point in time is still the technology sector and we would continue to be betting on the technology sector," Johnson told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Friday.

The consumer discretionary sector looks in good shape, but the charts suggest tech is the better bet, said Johnson.

"Looking at the absolute price action of the XLK, we just broke out to new highs," said Johnson. "It looks like we've got a measured objective that could take us up toward $80 so that was where we'd be putting our money to work and we remain overweight this sector at this point."

The XLK technology ETF is still an 11 percent rally from the $80 level. It reached an all-time high of $72.38 on Wednesday.

The information technology sector has added almost 14 percent so far this year, more than triple the gain of the S&P 500. The consumer discretionary sector, which houses big-time climbers Amazon and Netflix, has risen nearly 12 percent so far this year.

Technology's big gains in recent years have another analyst feeling more bearish.

"You're talking about over the last five years almost 30 percent outperformance in big tech versus discretionary which has been a strong leader in the market so you're talking about a leader in the market being outperformed by 30 percent," Larry McDonald, editor of the Bear Traps Report, said on Friday's "Trading Nation."

The XLK tech ETF has rallied nearly 130 percent since mid-2013, while the XLY consumer discretionary ETF has increased 94 percent in the same time period.

"You want to run from tech here. You don't want to walk away," McDonald added.

Both the tech and consumer discretionary sectors were slightly higher Monday.


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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