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Consumer Stocks That Fueled U.S. Bull Market Remain Mired in Rut

  • S&P 500 discretionaries on pace for weakest year since 2008
  • Group underperforms market even as report shows spending rose
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Hooper: Diminished Relevance of Economic Models

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The bull market’s highest fliers can’t seem to get going again.

Consumer-discretionary companies, the engine of the seven-year rally in U.S. equities with a gain of more than 400 percent, remain on course for the worst year since the financial crisis even as the American consumer continues to show signs of strength. The industry that includes apparel retailers, cruise-ship operators and Netflix Inc. has lagged the S&P 500 Index by 2.9 percentage points in 2016, trailing the broader gauge in six of eight months.