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Stock Rally Pauses; These Laggards Keep Rising – Investor's Business Daily

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U.S. stock indexes paused midday Wednesday after posting gains in four of the previous five sessions, a run that included a new high in the S&P 500.

XAutoplay: On | OffThe Nasdaq inched down 0.1%, while the small-cap Russell 2000 rose 0.3%. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average were nearly flat.

Volume declined on the NYSE but rose on the Nasdaq compared to the same time in the previous session.

Retail and oil groups dominated the day’s list of leaders, despite their laggard price performance over the past six months.

Oil and gas explorer Continental Resources (CLR) popped 3.5% in modestly higher volume. Going into Wednesday’s session, the energy explorer group was No. 188 among 197 industry groups. Continental is 40% off the high it marked in early December.

Retail discount chains rose about 2% and the strength was broad within the group. Target (TGT) added 2.5%; Costco (COST), 2%; Smart & Final (SFS), 2%; PriceSmart (PSMT), 1.5%; and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), 1%. The discount chains are No. 166 in industry group ranking.

The big bank money centers headed toward the group’s fourth daily gain in a row but gains were concentrated among a few in the group. Citigroup (C) popped 0.9% as it closed in on a potential buy point at 69.96. Morgan Stanley (MS) added 0.7% as it struggled to retake and hold above its 50-day line. Bank of America (BAC) rose 1.5% in heavy volume as it retook its 50-day line and continued work on a new base. Money centers are middle of the pack in six-month price performance.

Blue chip gainers led losers in the Dow Jones industrial average by a 2-to-1 ratio. Wal-Mart led on the upside, while Apple (AAPL) led the downside with a 1.6% loss.

In the IBD 50, a proxy for top-rated stocks, medical managed care provider Centene (CNC) gapped up to a 6% gain in heavy volume. Centene announced it would buy privately held Fidelis Care, giving Centene a presence in the New York market.

On the downside in the IBD 50, credit information provider TransUnion (TRU) dropped 4% in heavy volume as it cut under its 50-day line. The company said panic from the Equifax (EFX) data breach was also hurting TransUnion.

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