1.A retailer is one of the best-performing stocks: Two comeback stories are leading the S&P 500 this year.
Best Buy(BBY) and Netflix(NFLX) have both surged about 270% so far in 2013. Best Buy has bounced back from steep losses in 2012 on hopes that the electronic retailer's sales are turning around. Netflix is near an all-time high thanks to strong subscriber gains and raves for its original content. The online video company was hit hard in 2011 after it raised prices.
2.And a retailer is the worst-performer: J.C. Penney(JCP) is bringing up the rear. Shares of the ailing retailer have plunged more than 50% this year, although it has recovered recently after several hedge funds purchased stakes in the company.
Still, J.C. Penney has a lot to prove. Sales continued to plunge and losses have grown this year. That led to the ouster of controversial CEO Ron Johnson back in April. If J.C. Penney wants to be the Best Buy of 2014, it will have to start building some positive momentum on Black Friday and during the holiday shopping season.
3.Lots of companies have soared: Not all of this year's stand outs were so speculative.
Drug store chains CVS(CVS) and Walgreen(WAG) have outperformed and are near all-time highs. Grocery store chains Safeway(SWY) and Kroger(KR) have also done well, as have blue chip Dow components Boeing(BA) and Nike(NKE). In fact, 86 companies in the S&P 500 have risen 50% or more so far in 2013.
4.The top large cap mutual fund is ... The RidgeWorth Aggressive Growth Stock(SAGAX) fund has gained more than 55% so far this year, making it the best performing mutual fund that invests in large-cap stocks, according to Morningstar.
Several of the fund's top holdings have surged this year, including Tesla(TSLA), Amazon(AMZN), Facebook(FB), Priceline(PCLN), Netflix(NFLX) and Google(GOOG).
5.Stocks aren't cheap. But they're not super expensive yet: Despite this year's surge, the stock market as a whole does not appear to be overvalued.
El-Erian: 'Take some money off the table'
The S&P 500 is currently trading at 15 times next year's earnings estimates, according to FactSet. That puts the stock market's valuation slightly above the 10-year average of 14.
Another measure suggests that stocks aren't too expensive. The S&P 500 is trading at 16 times last year's earnings, compared with a long-term average of nearly 15.
6.Individuals are rushing into stocks: As stocks scale to new heights, investors have been pouring money into equity funds at a torrid pace.
For the year, investors have put more than $140 billion into mutual funds that invest in stocks, according to data from the Investment Company Institute. That compares with a net outflow of $153 billion in 2012.
7.Investors are very greedy: Meanwhile, CNNMoney's Fear & Greed index, which tracks seven indicators of market sentiment, has been firmly in Greed territory in recent weeks, with the occasional foray into the realm of Extreme Greed.
It's almost hard to remember it was less than two months ago that investors were nervous about the government shutdown and possibility of a debt default by the United States. In early October the Fear & Greed Index was flashing signs of Extreme Fear.
8.The bull is almost five. Stepping back further, this year's gains are just the latest phase in a bull market that began nearly five years ago. The S&P 500 has increased 170% since the "Devil's Low" of 666 on March 9, 2009.