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Receptive To Correction

A correction, whether for an individual stock or a broader financial market, is about as complicated as putting your car in reverse gear.

It simply means - going the other way, but temporarily and for a short distance.

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Wall Street types usually reach for the term when the stock market backtracks after establishing a trend that takes it higher.

And it's considered a good thing, a chance for the market to pause and gather strength for another push higher.

The direction is still up. (Although corrections can also bring a bounce in a market that is trending downwards, something we haven't seen on Wall Street in about six years.)

A correction generally happens because investors sell some of their holdings to take advantage of recent gains.

Generally, a correction means a retreat of up to 10 percent in value. Anything more than that, and analysts start to talk about a change in market direction.

A market correction, however, can carry more subtlety than a broad move southward.

Sometimes, just parts of the market head lower. Analysts call this a sector correction. And some analysts say Wall Street is currently in its grip.

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The sector that contains oil company stocks, for example, may correct after a sharp move higher, while technology-sector stocks keep moving ahead.

Sometimes a correction in one sector masks true activity in the rest of the market.

For example, a sector correction among blue-chip stocks could pull the blue-chip index - the Dow Jones Industrial Average - down, while most stocks are actually moving up higher.

That happened to a degree last week. There were days when the the Dow posted a loss, while the Nasdaq, which includes many high-tech and smaller companies, moved ahead.

At the same time, the Russell 2000 Index, which measures smaller companies, showed gains on some of the days that the Dow was down.