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I've noticed that--even after Thursday's impressive rise--only 1345 stocks across the NYSE, NASDAQ, and American Exchanges had made fresh 20-day highs against 550 new lows. By comparison, on December 5th, we had 1920 new 20-day highs and only 276 new lows.

Below, I take a larger picture from August of this year to the present. The red line is the daily closing price of the S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY). The blue line is the difference between the number of stocks across the three exchanges that are making fresh 65-day highs minus those making 65-day lows. Notice that, recently, as we've moved to new highs in SPY, the net number of stocks making new intermediate-term highs has lagged. [Props to the excellent Barchart site for the new high/low data].

click to enlarge

So what's hot and what's not?

Most noticeably, we see that the S&P 500 large cap ETF (SPY) has made a new multi-year high. We see no such new high in the Russell 2000 small cap ETF (NYSEARCA:IWM) or the NASDAQ 100 Index fund (QQQQ). The midcap ETF (NYSEARCA:MDY) is knocking at door of new highs, but so far is lagging. In other words, we're seeing divergence based upon capitalization and market.

How about sectors?

I took a look at the 17 State Street "Spyder" ETFs to see which have made new highs since August on this recent rise. Six closed at new highs:

Oil & Gas Equipment & Services (NYSEARCA:XES)
Financial (NYSEARCA:XLF)
Consumer Staples (NYSEARCA:XLP)
Utilities (NYSEARCA:XLU)
Consumer Discretionary (NYSEARCA:XLY)

Eleven sector State Street "Spyder" ETFs, however, did not make new highs on Thursday:

Homebuilders (NYSEARCA:XHB)
Materials (NYSEARCA:XLB)
Industrial (NYSEARCA:XLI)
Technology (NYSEARCA:XLK)
Health Care (NYSEARCA:XLV)
Metals and Mining (NYSEARCA:XME)
Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (NYSEARCA:XOP)
Pharmaceuticals (NYSEARCA:XPH)
Semiconductors (NYSEARCA:XSD)

While this is a mixed bag, it's clear that, overall, growth sectors are lagging value ones.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats. My research suggests that rising boats are indicative of significant rising tides. On Thursday, there were fewer rising boats than meets the eye.

Source: ETFs: What's Hot and What's Not?