Key S&P 500 index passes landmark as it goes 3,453 days without major correction
US stocks closed trading on Wednesday having gone almost nine and a half years without a 20% fall. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
US stock markets passed another landmark on Wednesday as the S&P 500 recorded its longest rally ever, capping a near decade-long Wall Street boom that has gathered pace over the course of this year.
The S&P 500 share index, tracking the 500 biggest public companies in America, closed trading on Wednesday having gone 3,453 days – nearly nine and a half years – without a fall of 20% or more, which is the measure used by some analysts for handing it the status as the longest bull market in US history.
The record was set with more of a whimper than a roar. The S&P 500 dipped 1 point to 2,861 for the day while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 88 points, or 0.3%, to 25,733, and the Nasdaq composite rose 29 points, or 0.4%, to 7,889. But records were set nonetheless.
Having started in March 2009, following the financial crisis, the longest market rally comes as the global economy continues its recovery from the depths of the last recession.
Although there have been numerous wobbles in the past 10 years, including a sharp correction earlier this year, when S&P fell 10% over two weeks after its January high, the milestone comes with help from corporate tax cuts and the rise of internet companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google’s owner, Alphabet.
A loose definition is that a stock market switches from a bear to a bull phase when share prices have risen 20% from the previous low. The bull market continues until there is a 20% decline from the peak, when stocks go back into bear mode.
One theory explaining the stock market terminology comes from the way both animals attack their opponents. A bull thrusts its horns up into the air, while a bear swipes downward.
Guardian graphic. Source: Thomson Reuters
The previous record bull run started in October 1990, lasting almost a decade until the dotcom bubble burst around the turn of the millennium. There are, however, disputes over the starting point, which could render celebrations over the latest milestone premature.