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The S&P's Best Sectors in 2013

Dan Caplinger
January 4, 2014

The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) rocketed forward to huge gains in 2013, posting a total return of more than 32% for the year. But when you dig more deeply into the S&P's best sectors in 2013, you find that a few areas of the market really stood out from the pack. Let's take a look at the top three performers among S&P sectors last year and why investors in consumer discretionary, health-care, and industrial stocks outpaced the S&P 500's results in 2013.

For consumer discretionary stocks, improving economic conditions led to greater spending in a number of different areas that contributed to the sector's 43% gains. General Motors (NYSE: GM) continued its run of impressive performance in 2013, rising 42% for the second year in a row as auto sales figures kept rebounding. Similarly, Home Depot (NYSE: HD) rode the recovery in the housing market to more strong gains, with the home-improvement retailer's stock climbing 36% as homeowners became more willing to spend on improvements and renovation projects.

Meanwhile, health-care stocks jumped 41%, with biotech companies providing a big portion of the gains in the sector. Even though Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) and Celgene don't carry as much weight in