(Bloomberg) -- Rarely has it cost so much to purchase low-priced stocks.

With oil’s rebound helping U.S. energy producers recover from a 27% plunge, the least-expensive industry in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index just became banks, where the median company trades at 17.6 times earnings from the past 12 months. That’s no bargain: only once has the cheapest sector commanded a higher valuation, a quarter century of data compiled by Bloomberg and Leuthold Group show.

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