The S&P 500 Index has closed higher five consecutive weeks, making six new all-time highs along the way. There now have been 19 new highs in 2019, tying the number we saw last year.
There’s no doubt that this bull market has been incredibly impressive, especially lately. But, it may also be quite misunderstood.
For instance, this bull market has been helped by two large pullbacks along the way. There have been two separate 19% plus corrections for the S&P 500 over the past 10 years, in October 2011 and in December 2018. While the selloffs were swift and deep, the S&P 500 didn’t fall more than 20% on a closing basis (the classic definition of a “bear market”). One more bad day last December, though, and we would be saying this bull market is less than a year old. That’s quite a different look than where we are now.
“Many consider this bull market the greatest ever, given it has incredibly lasted more than 10 years,” explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “But in terms of magnitude, many would be surprised to hear that the 357% gain during this bull market is still beneath the record 417% gain seen during the 1990s.”
This bull market also isn’t the strongest in history in terms of gains, even though it has lasted longer than any other bull market, as shown in the LPL Chart of the Day. On an annualized return basis, this bull market has gained 15.3%, which is actually weaker than the average bull market annualized gain of 18.9%.
Last decade (from 2000-2009) was especially bad for stocks. It was the first decade ever in which the S&P 500 fell into two separate 50% bear market declines, along with making only 13 new highs the full decade. We’re not surprised to see explosive gains and new highs this decade (2010-2019) given how bad last decade was for stocks.
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