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They occur when investors receive a pop in selected stocks because of the way fund managers readjust their holdings to dress up their fourth quarter performance.
These improvements don't usually last very long.
In fact, most investors will see the affected stocks decline back to normal levels by mid- to late-January.
But for a few weeks, investors can earn a nice little return as the calendar begins the New Year. This hedge-fund effect will be of special interest to energy investors in 2013.
That's in stark contrast to last year when oil-related stocks were moving in one direction while natural gas stocks were moving in another. What's more, service companies were beginning to come off of their highs at this point in 2011, and King Coal was about to fall off a cliff of its own.
This time around, we have a fiscal cliff soap opera in the U.S., continuing credit concerns in Europe (although with a parallel rise in market optimism emerging on the continent), rising uncertainty again in the Middle East, and a simmering dispute between Japan and China.
In short, even ignoring the Mayans and their approaching December 21 deadline, there is no lack of concern in the market these days.
Still, there will be several beneficiaries in the energy sector as hedge fund managers make their moves over the next few weeks. This is likely to happen across several categories of companies.
In this case, investors would be wise emphasize two segments of the energy market that are currently on the rise: oil refineries and coal stocks.