U.S. small-cap equities on the Russell 2000 Index rallied to 604.87 by the market close of Aug. 25, up from the near 52-week low of 595.59 the previous day. The Aug. 24 close was only 40 points higher than the September 2, 2009 low of 555.83.

Consumer staples and utilities have been the best performing sectors on the Russell 2000 year-to-date, returning 0.67% and 0.11% respectively. The utilities sector is the only sector on the index that showed positive returns for the quarter at 3.18%. Energy, meanwhile, has been the worst-performing sector YTD, down almost 13% through Aug. 24.

Most of the securities on the Russell 2000 are down both quarterly and year-to-date. Consumer discretionary returned -3.36% for the quarter and -1.73 YTD. The financial services sector was down 2.90% QTD and at -2.37% YTD. Health care was returning -4.17%QTD and -7.27 YTD. The materials & processing sector is at -0.39% QTD and -5.81% YTD. The producer durables sector is -3.02% QTD and -5.40 YTD. Technology is -0.10% QTD and -2.70% YTD.

Stephen Wood, chief market strategist for Russell Investments, said in a statement that small-caps are responding to the global economic slowdown and because the companies on the index tend to be more cyclically exposed, sectors like consumer staples are outperforming sectors like financials and energy.

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