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Say goodbye to the shortest bear market in S&P 500 history

Say goodbye to the shortest bear market in S&P 500 history

The "Fearless Girl" statue is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York, on May 26, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

REUTERS: Well, that was quick!

The S&P 500's record closing high on Tuesday confirmed that the coronavirus-fuelled bear market of 2020 was by far the shortest ever.

Measured from the benchmark's previous record high on Feb 19 to its trough on Mar 23, the pandemic-induced bear market lasted a mere 33 days, compared to the median age of 302 days of 20 bear markets going back to the 1920s, according to Yardeni Research data.

By one commonly used definition, a new bull market in the S&P 500 began when the index bounced from its Mar 23 low, supported by trillions of dollars in stimulus from US policymakers that boosted hopes of a recovery from the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Wall Street's dramatic bounce over the next five months saw the S&P gain some about 55 per cent in the face of widespread economic devastation and a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in parts of the United States.

In June, the Nasdaq became the first of the three major US stock indexes to reclaim all-time highs, powered by gains in the shares of big technology-related companies that prospered during COVID-19 lockdowns, including Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc.

Commonly defined as a drop of 20 per cent or more from a peak, the S&P 500 has seen about a dozen bear markets, or near-bear markets since the late 1960s, in most cases accompanied by a recession.

While 2020's bear market was the S&P 500's shortest-lived, it still packed a punch. The index fell 34 per cent from its February high to its March low, just slightly below its average bear market loss of 37 per cent.

However, declines in the index's most recent bear market were not as deep as its two previous downturns. 

The 2009 bear market following the financial crisis destroyed 57 per cent of the S&P 500's value, while the Wall Street slump in 2002 following the implosion of the dot-com bubble eliminated almost half of its value.

Source: Reuters

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