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The Rally’s Biggest Winners

It’s been Octoberfest in the equity markets, which are on pace to have their best month in 25 years — but it was those sectors most battered when market volatility took off in August that enjoyed the truly outsized gains, analysts say.

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That includes European stocks, which rallied strongly as leaders progressed toward solving the debt crisis. Energy stocks were also jolted skyward, along with material stocks, industrials and small and mid-cap stocks, advisers and analysts say.  As the market has rebounded in October –the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 12% for the month and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is up 13.5%– those sectors have taken the lead. “Whatever went down the most came up the strongest,” says Weyman Gong, chief investment strategist at Signature, a financial advisory firm based in Norfolk, Va.

Among October’s biggest winners: European stock funds, which gained 11% over the last month, according to Morningstar, as leaders moved closer to a bailout deal for Greece.

Energy stocks, which suffered from cutbacks in gas consumption, and materials, such as metal and copper, were hurt by a slowdown in manufacturing earlier this year, have also both rebounded strongly as consumer sentiment has picked up, says Gong: the Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE) is up 16% over the last four weeks and the Vanguard Materials ETF (VAW) is up 12%, compared to an 8% gain by the S&P 500 over the same time period. Small cap stocks, which tend to outperform when the market is headed up, have also had strong gains, says Christine Benz, director of personal finance for Morningstar. The SPDR S&P 600 Small Cap Value fund (SLYV) is up 13% in the last four weeks.

The developments coming out of Europe combined with signs that the U.S. isn’t falling into a double dip recession are encouraging money managers like Gong to up their stock allocations. Gong is increasing his clients’ equity holdings to about 60% of their portfolio from 55% currently. If the market gains hold, both the Dow and the S&P would have their largest monthly percent gain since January 1987. But even optimistic advisers who are convinced this rally has legs warn things will remain bumpy for a while. “The volatility has been at extraordinary levels, I don’t expect that to change at all,” says Rich Ilczyszyn, senior broker with MF Global. “But if we end the month with the market above 12030 we could reach 13000 by the end of the year. “

But advisers warn against piling into these sectors just because they’re having a big run. European governments, for example, have to enact austerity measures, pay down debt and cut social welfare programs—all things that could slow down their economic growth, says Gong. And while sectors like materials and energy may have taken the lead over the last month, they are still down for the year, says Benz. Investors should focus on broader stock market exposure and hold less volatile sectors, like consumer staples, says Benz.

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      Ubuntu Can’t Paste to Folder
      Ubuntu Can’t Paste to Folder
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      Ubuntu Can’t Paste to Folder
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