Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Of The Long Bull Run And The Short Bear

Today, the S&P 500 set a new mark as the longest bull run in stock market history, surpassing the bull market record that ran from October 1990 to March 2000.

On Wednesday, the bull market that began on April 8, 2009, reached 3,453 days. The nearly 9 1/2 year run without a decline of 20% has seen the S&P rise from its low of 815.55 on April 7, 2009, to yesterday's closing high of 2,862.96, a gain of 2047.41, an average annual return of 26.4%. It's been quite a decade for Wall Street after the financial crisis had put the world on edge.

Unlike anything seen before, excepting possibly the expansion during the 1990s dotcom boom, investors have been showered with profits from virtually all sectors. There is no denying that the bull market of the 20-teens will go down in economic history as one of the more bizarre experiences ever, fueled by unlimited free-spending by central banks in global coordination, slashing interest rates at times, in some countries, to negative yields.

Adding to the hyper activity in the markets were stock buybacks by nearly every major corporation, financed by ultra-low interest rates. Buybacks reduced the number of shares outstanding, thus boosting earnings-per-share calculations beyond normal ranges.

While many still argue that this bull market was mostly smoke and mirrors, enhanced by the Federal Reserve and of benefit to only the richest one percent of the population, anybody who invested during this period made money. That's an undeniable fact that serves to silence even the grizzliest of bears.

Shortest Bear Market?

Adherents to Dow Theory (Money Daily being of that disposition) saw the end of the bull market earlier this year, when the Dow dropped precipitously from its January 26 all-time high close of 26,616.71 to 23,533.20 on March 23. The primary trend change (bull to bear) was confirmed when the Transportation Index closed on 10,119.36 on April 9. Since then, the Dow has come back, though it has not surpassed its previous high, which would signal another primary trend change from bear to bull. However, yesterday, August 21, the Transports set a new record closing high, finishing the session at 11,436.36 and well beyond its previous record close of 11,373.38, reached on January 12, 2018.

While the Transports have been leading (without much notice) the charge to new highs, it will take another spurt higher of nearly 900 by the Dow Industrials to surpass its own all-time high. If that scenario develops, the Dow will confirm the trend change that the Transportation Index has suggested. According to Dow Theory, the two have to react in tandem, confirming the primary trend direction.

The Dow demands close scrutiny in the weeks and possibly months ahead, because, despite the larger universe of pundits and analysts celebrating the longest bull run ever, until the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 26,616.71, theoretically, this is still a bear market and the recent activity since late March of this year has been nothing but speculation and noise.

For all the hoopla over the bull market record, today's action was noticeably subdued. Of the four major indices, only the NASDAQ returned a winner, as investors waded back into the tech-soaked speculative morass.

Dow Jones Industrial Average August Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
8/1/18 25,333.82 -81.37 -81.37
8/2/18 25,326.16 -7.66 -89.03
8/3/18 25,462.58 +136.42 +55.05
8/6/18 25,502.18 +39.60 +94.65
8/7/18 25,628.91 +126.73 +221.38
8/8/18 25,583.75 -45.16 +176.22
8/9/18 25,509.23 -74.52 +101.70
8/10/18 25,313.14 -196.09 -94.39
8/13/18 25,187.70 -125.44 -219.83
8/14/18 25,299.92 +112.22 -107.61
8/15/18 25,162.41 -137.51 -245.12
8/16/18 25,558.73 +396.32 +151.20
8/17/18 25,669.32 +110.59 +261.79
8/20/18 25,758.69 +89.37 +351.16
8/21/18 25,822.29 +63.60 +414.76
8/22/18 25,733.60 -88.69 +326.07

At the Close, Wednesday, August 22, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,733.60, -88.69 (-0.34%)
NASDAQ: 7,889.10, +29.92 (+0.38%)
S&P 500: 2,861.82, -1.14 (-0.04%)
NYSE Composite: 12,992.05, -4.71 (-0.04%)
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