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10 stocks driving the ASX 200

Despite a dip in the index experienced in May last year, investors have welcomed the 15% ascent of the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) over the past 12 months – a rise of 687.4 points, which has been predominantly influenced by just 10 stocks.

Whilst smaller companies down the lower end of the broader market have barely moved during this period, investors seeking a safety zone have flocked towards higher yielding stocks.

The big four banks were all amongst the top 5 index performers for the year, with the Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) leading the charge. A chart, provided by the Brisbane Times, shows that its shares gained $17.23 for the year to 10 April, adding over 114 index points. Meanwhile, Westpac (ASX: WBC) added 112 points with its gain of $8.84.

Whilst the National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) and the ANZ (ASX: ANZ) finished fourth and fifth, Telstra (ASX: TLS) positioned third, adding 60.8 points.

For some, it may come as no surprise that mining heavyweights BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) did not make the top 10 list for the year. Whilst these companies have lead numerous market rallies in the past, investors have largely turned their backs to the mining industry in recent times. In fact, Commonwealth Bank recently overtook BHP as Australia’s largest company by market capitalisation.

Rounding out the top 10 companies were CSL Limited (ASX: CSL), Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG), and supermarket rivals Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES) and Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW). Despite falls in the brick-and-mortar retailing industry, Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) also made the elite group.

Foolish takeaway

Local and foreign investors alike have sought Australia’s high yielding companies, despite many of them offering low levels of growth yet high multiples of earnings. Whilst the share activity of our mining heavyweights have done little to impress investors this year, analysts are expecting a strong rebound in the sector that will ensure shareholders a great reward.

The top 10 may not be your best bets for new investments. Savvy investors are now seeking growth in smaller companies. Discover two stellar small-cap opportunities now, in our brand-new research report, “2 Small Cap Superstars” — simply click here to download your FREE copy.

More reading

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead.  This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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