First Half Review, Second Half Preview

Adios, first half of 2009. Quarters three and four, mucho gusto.

Although stocks drifted down yesterday, the S&P 500 finished the second quarter of 2009 with a 15.2% gain, its best quarter since 1998. Since March lows, the index is up nearly 35%. For all of 2009, the S&P is just above break-even.

So the obvious question: Where do we go from here? Was the second quarter a fluke — a simple snapback of oversold stocks? Or a new bull market? For an answer, we sought out the “stars” of the second quarter… take a look:


Heh, let’s see: U.S. auto and manufacturing, financials, commercial real estate, retail, insurance and health care… all dead, dying, disabled or at least dubious sectors of 2009. Of all the 10 stocks you see above, only Ford is anywhere near a 52-week high. In other words, the leaders of the second quarter were the pariahs of the previous three. Are these the seeds with which market growth is sown?