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US SMALL/MIDCAPS-Small-caps outperform, led by energy, banks

NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Small-cap shares rose on Monday, outperforming the wider market as energy and financial stocks led gains.

Small- and mid-cap companies’ shares, generally considered riskier assets as a group and more sensitive to a volatile investment environment, have been outperforming large-cap stocks in recent weeks.

“On a stock-by-stock basis, small- and mid-caps may be better in a sense that if you are a large-cap, it is hard to get away from the issues that we see now, whether that be Europe’s sovereign debt issues or geopolitical risks,” said Ryan Crane, senior portfolio manager at Stephens Capital Management in Houston.

Among the gainers, Stone Energy Corp SGY.N rose 5.1 percent to $22.94, and First Bancorp FBP.N gained 13.5 percent to 30 cents.

As the year wraps up, portfolio mangers are also chasing more small and mid-cap stocks that have been performing well to keep their year-end balance sheets healthy.

The S&P SmallCap 600 index .SML advanced 0.5 percent while the S&P MidCap 400 index .MID was up just 0.05 percent, or almost unchanged.

But all three major indexes -- the Dow, the S&P and the Nasdaq -- were flat to slightly higher as investors booked profits before moves by the euro zone’s officials to keep a debt crisis contained.

The finance ministers were under pressure as they met to increase the size of a 750-billion-euro safety net for debt-stricken members. But Germany rejected any such move. For details, see [ID:nLDE6B40EJ]

On the downside, Celgene Corp CELG.O fell 9.1 percent to $55.07 after the company reported data that showed a potential increase in the risk of secondary malignancies in patients taking its multiple myeloma drug Revlimid for extended periods of time. [ID:nN06199778] (Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jan Paschal)