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Below we highlight the 25 best performing stocks in the Russell 3,000 year to date.  While energy-related names led the way for much of the first half of the year, the top three spots are now made up of two consumer stocks and one financial.  Star Scientific (STSI) is currently the best performing stock in the index, up 401.26% year to date.  STSI is a technology-oriented tobacco company seeking to develop, license, and implement technology to reduce the carcinogenic toxins in tobacco and tobacco smoke.  A chart of the stock shows that the majority of its gains have come in the last few weeks. 

Retailer Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL) ranks second with a gain of 353% in 2008, followed by Crawford & Co (NYSE:CRD.B), which provides claim management solutions to insurance companies around the world.  Rounding out the top five best performers are two alternative-energy firms, FSYS and QTWW.

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In our second table, we highlight the two best performing stocks in each of the ten major sectors that make up the Russell 3,000.  As shown, the second best consumer staples stock behind STSI is up just 61% (NASDAQ:SYUT).  The difference between performance of the top two stocks in the consumer staples sector is by far the most extreme.  And as you may have noticed in the table above, there were no Telecom or Utilities stocks in the top 25.  The best performing Telecom stock year to date is only up 19.77% (NASDAQ:GNCMA), while the best Utilities stock is up 26% (NYSE:LG).

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Source: Best Performing Stocks Year to Date