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The 5 Best Sectors to Invest in for 2023

Energy was the only sector winner in 2022, but going into the new year, these look like the 5 best sectors to invest in.

A Stethoscope

Many investors have “quick” indicators that they like to glance at to get a general gauge of market or sector conditions before digging in for more research. Cabot Growth Investor/Top Ten Trader’s Mike Cintolo uses the Two-Second Indicator to see the stocks making new lows.

I prefer to begin with a relative performance line. It’s simple and effective and it can help increase your investing wins in a tough market.

Relative performance (RP) is simply a measure of how well a stock or ETF is doing compared with the S&P 500 Index. An RP line can be constructed using or other charting software by dividing a stock’s price by the S&P 500 index on a daily basis. The resulting number is plotted as a continuous line and shows how well the stock (or ETF) in question is performing versus the broad market.

Stocks and sector ETFs that are showing relative strength versus the S&P are more likely to continue outperforming based on the well-known observation that “a trend in motion tends to stay in motion.”

Moreover, RP is a vitally important tool in a bear market since outperforming stocks are usually in strong hands (i.e. owned by institutions, hedge funds, or well-informed investors), with the assumption that uninformed small investors are less likely to own such stocks in a persistently weak environment. This in turn decreases the likelihood that RP leaders will be heavily sold off during broad market declines.

Here is a list of what I consider the five best-performing sectors relative to the S&P 500 as 2022 draws to a close and a new year begins. We’ll start this review with the lowest RP ranking and work up to the highest ranking.

Sector #5: Energy

Starting off the list, honorable mention goes to the energy sector which appears to be turning a corner after basically treading water the last few weeks. The relative performance line for the Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE) has just crossed above the 50-day moving average after being under it since late November. This suggests oil and gas stocks are returning to a position of relative strength entering the new year (in part due to China’s emergence from its Covid Zero policy that should increase global energy demand).


Sector #4: Financials

Bank stocks also look to be strong performers in 2023, thanks in part to higher interest rates (which increase banks’ profit margins). The Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF) is outperforming versus the S&P and is also currently above the rising 50-day line, as shown here. With the Fed signaling that it’s not yet done raising rates, an increasingly strong financial sector looks like a good bet for the new year.

XLF:$SPX Chart

Sector #3: Consumer Staples

One of the market’s strongest performers is the consumer staples sector, which is a defensive-oriented space that investors typically turn to in uncertain times. Unsurprisingly, the consumer staple stocks have been among 2022’s best performers, and with investors increasingly worried about a recession, this group is likely to remain strong in the months ahead. The chart below compares the Consumer Staples Select Sector ETF (XLP) with the S&P. If this RP line can resume its recent trend above the 50-day MA, having some exposure to consumer staples stocks or ETFs is warranted.

XLP:$SPX Chart

Sector # 2: Industrials

Coming in at second place is the industrial sector, which has shown notable relative strength for much of 2022. This is reflected in the RP line for the Industrial Select Sector ETF (XLI), which is well above its rising 50-day moving average. Despite a tepid economic backdrop, nonresidential and industrial construction projects in the U.S. are proceeding at a torrid pace, thanks to recently passed federal legislation supporting infrastructure development. This is just one of the reasons why the industrial sector looks to be one of 2023’s strongest performers.

XLI:$SPX Chart

Sector #1: Health Care

After underperforming for much of last year, healthcare stocks (drug and device makers and the like) have hit a bullish stride entering 2023. The RP line for the Health Care Select Sector ETF (XLV) highlights the remarkable turnaround in this sector in recent months. U.S. healthcare spending is conservatively projected to grow at a rate of 7% over the next five years, providing a strong fundamental backdrop for the sector. What’s more, healthcare typically outperforms during periods of high inflation, which is one of many reasons for expecting the sector to maintain strength in the new year.

XLV:$SPX Chart

For over 20 years, he has worked as a writer, analyst and editor of several market-oriented advisory services and has written several books on technical trading in the stock market, including “Channel Buster: How to Trade the Most Profitable Chart Pattern” and “The Stock Market Cycles.”