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The S&P's Worst-Performing Sectors in 2013

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/04/21/the-sps-worst-performing-sectors-in.aspx

Dan Caplinger
April 21, 2013

With gains of more than 9% so far in 2013, the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) has already posted better returns than it often manages over an entire year. But the past week's downdraft serves as a valuable reminder that you have to be vigilant to spot signs of weakness in the stock market before they blossom into full-fledged corrections. Specifically, looking at particular sectors of the market that are lagging behind the S&P 500's overall performance can help you gauge whether industry-specific trends are holding stocks back or whether those poor conditions are likely to spread into other sectors.

Yesterday's column looked at the best-performing sectors in the S&P so far in 2013. Today, let's turn to the dark side by identifying the laggards in the S&P this year.

XLB Total Return Price Chart

S&P 500 Sectors Total Return Price data by YCharts.

Materials have posted the weakest performance, just barely eking out a gain on the year, with technology and energy also falling behind the overall return of the S&P 500. For materials, the slowdown in China has sent commodity producers of all kinds for a loop. In particular, with slower construction activity, U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) and other steel companies have seen their stocks tumble throughout 2013. That in turn has caused a cascade effect, as coal and iron-ore supplier Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF) has seen less demand for its vital inputs for the steel-making process. Gold's big decline last week only hurt matters by sending precious-metals miners down for the count