The smallest stocks are rallying almost twice as fast as bigger companies in the U.S., a bullish economic signal from businesses whose profits are most dependent on domestic demand.

Shares of companies from Rite Aid Corp. to Teledyne Technologies Inc. in the Russell 2000 Index have advanced 32% in 2013, compared with 19% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The spread is the widest for any year since 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Three of the last four times small-caps outperformed by this much, the economy grew faster the next year and stocks stayed in a bull market for another year or more, based on data from the past 34 years.

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