U.S. Stock Market's Five Best and Worst Performers in 2014's First Half

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As we close out the first half of 2014, its time to take a look back at the year-to-date U.S. stock market gainers and losers.

The three major benchmarks ended the first half of 2014 modestly in the green. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the first six months of the year up 1.5%. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index logged a 6.1% gain and the Nasdaq Composite added 5.5%.

U.S. stock marketWhile bonds and related securities were expected to underperform, as the U.S. Federal Reserve winds down its asset-buying program, this sector turned in impressive gains. Long-term bond funds rose 12.5% from January through June. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, meanwhile, slipped from 3.03% to 2.52%.

Gold and silver, due for a bounce after 2013's painful 28% and 36% drops respectively, reversed course. Gold prices rose 10% in 2014's first half, and silver prices gained 8.6%. Gold mining stocks performed even better, up 27.5% in the same period.

Oil (light sweet crude) rose 7.1% as worries mounted over oil export and import disruptions as Iraq faces a full scale civil war. Natural gas prices rose 5.5%.

Yield-starved investors piled into income investments. High-yielding utility funds surged 15.8%, real estate funds soared 16.5% and master limited partnerships in the energy sector climbed 17.2% in the first half of 2014.

Stocks turned in a mix showing, with sizable gains and losses across several sectors. Following are the five best and five worst performers of 2014's first half.

U.S. Stock Market's Best and Worst Stocks for 2014

First let's look at who's lagging in performance. It might not be a surprise that our list of stock market losers for 2014's first half all hail from the retail sector…

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