And for a large group of stocks within the S&P 500 index, the trend has been either decidedly positive or negative. Those performance trends stayed mostly intact this month, as stocks exhibited a fair amount of volatility on the heels of an October that saw the best monthly gains in three years.
Some of the best performing stocks in the S&P 500 so far in November are the same ones that have been leading the way higher all year. As of Monday, more than half of the constituents of the index posted positive returns on a month-to-date basis, which might be expected given the S&P’s relatively flat overall performance.
However, among that group of stocks, only about 160 have not only exhibited positive November gains, but also held onto positive year-to-date gains. In other words, they are stocks with both shorter and longer term relative upside momentum. Using both of those metrics in combination can help to eliminate stocks that have seen sharp rises over the short term, but due perhaps to a bounce off extremely sold-off conditions. For example, shares of natural gas and coal companyConsol Energy have gained 10 percent in November, but are still down 78 percent this year.
The two best performing stocks in the S&P 500 that are so far positive for the month and the year are deal related. Shares of industrial gas company Airgas have gained 44 percent on the heels of a takeover bid by French competitor Air Liquide. The second best performing stock given those parameters is Plum Creek Timber, which agreed to be bought by Weyerhaeuser. The shares rallied 23 percent for the month on a deal that would create America’s biggest timber and forest products company.