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What's Driving This Winning Streak

Bob Pisani is off all this week, this was written by CNBC producer Robert Hum

Stocks are rising modestly midday, and have now erased last week’s losses with their current 4-day winning streak. Cyclical and financial stocks are leading the way, while more defensive sectors like consumer staples, utilities and telecom stocks have lagged all day.

The rally gained momentum as the markets erased last week’s losses and as the S&P 500 moved above its August closing high of 1030.98. Both the S&P and Nasdaq are now sitting at levels they haven’t seen since last October.

Today’s advance is fairly broad, with 3 up stocks for every 1 declining stock at the NYSE. But clearly, it’s not just the big caps that are advancing:

a) Over the past week, the Rydex S&P Equal Weight ETF (RSP), which gives each of the S&P 500’s stocks the same weighting, has outperformed S&P 500 index, in which larger stocks have a greater impact on performance. Since last Wednesday’s close, the S&P Equal Weight ETF is up 5.4 percent, while the S&P 500 index has gained just 4.0 percent.

b) Also notable is the outperformance of the small cap stocks this week. Rising a strong 2 percent today, the small cap Russell 2000 index is now up 3.1 percent this week – doubling the gains of the large cap S&P 100 index, which has only risen 1.6 percent this over the past couple of days.

Despite the moderate gains in the past week, the trading in the markets still seems to lack conviction as many buyers and sellers remain on the sidelines, uncertain on whether a potential double-dip in the economy will materialize later in the fall.

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With the markets once again at new highs after the steep decline early last week, bulls nevertheless argue that the markets’ resilience over the past 4 days is impressive and should be noted.

However, bears are less convinced, as they point out that despite the rebound, trading volume still remains mediocre, even following the holiday weekend.

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