It's been a reversal of fortunes for banks in 2012: financial stocks lead this year, up 26 percent, after performing the worst of all 10 S&P 500 sectors last year.
Consumer discretionary names are set to finish 2012 with strong gains as well, mainly due to the rally in home builders, home improvement stocks, and retailers. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction ETF trades near four-year highs, up 74 percent this year, as housing has been the economic bright spot of 2012.
Home Depot, a darling of 2011, remains on top, posting the second biggest annual gain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, up 44 percent, behind Bank of America, which is up more than 100 percent. The do-it-yourself home improvement retailer benefited from both the housing recovery and super storm Sandy, which pummeled the East Coast at the end of October.