S&P 500 Climbs 20% Above October Low 06/08 15:25
Stocks rose just enough for Wall Street to barrel into a new bull market
Thursday as the S&P 500 keeps rallying off its low from last autumn.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks rose just enough for Wall Street to barrel into a
new bull market Thursday as the S&P 500 keeps rallying off its low from last
The index rose 0.6% to carry it 20% above a bottom hit in October. That
means Wall Street's main measure of health has climbed out of a painful bear
market, which saw it drop 25.4% over roughly nine months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 168 points, or 0.5%, Thursday. The
Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, led the way with a 1% rise. That's been the norm
so far this bull market, as chip maker Nvidia and a handful of other big tech
stocks have been responsible for the lion's share of Wall Street's gains.
Declaring the end of a bear market may seem arbitrary, but it offers a
useful marker for investors. It also provides a reminder that investors able to
hold on through downturns have nearly always made back all their losses in S&P
500 index funds eventually.
Even though it was driven by so many superlatives --- the worst inflation in
generations and the fastest hikes to interest rates in decades, for example---
this most recent bear market lasted only about nine months. It stretched from
Jan. 3, 2022, when the S&P 500 set a record, until Oct. 12, when it hit bottom.
That's shorter than the typical bear market, and it also resulted in a
shallower loss than average.
"In hindsight, it might not look that bad, but it certainly feels bad in the
moment," said Brent Schutte, chief investment officer at Northwestern Mutual.
What made last year even more painful for investors is that both stocks and
bonds lost money, he said, something that hasn't happened in decades.
Much of this bull market's gains have been because the economy has refused
to fall into a recession despite repeated predictions for one. It's withstood
the highest interest rates since 2007, three high-profile collapses for U.S.
banks, another threat by the U.S. government of an economy-shaking default on
its debt and a series of other challenges.
"Bottom line, the economy has been very resilient," said Anthony Saglimbene,
chief markets strategist at Ameriprise Financial.
"So much negativity was built into the market," he said. "While it's too
early to know this for sure, stocks look like they're doing what they normally
do when all the negativity has been discounted into the stock market: They
start moving higher in anticipation of better days ahead."
Not only has the economy avoided a recession because of a remarkably solid
job market and spending by consumers, hopes are also rising that the Fed may
soon stop hiking interest rates as inflation has come down from its peak last
High rates work to undercut inflation by slowing the entire economy and
dragging on prices for stocks and other investments.
The broad expectation among traders is that the Fed will hold rates steady
next week, which would mark the first meeting where it hasn't raised rates in
more than a year. While it may hike rates one more time in July, the hope on
Wall Street is that it won't go beyond that. Inflation has been coming down
from its peak last summer.
But many challenges still remain for the stock market.
Chief among them is that no one can be sure about when Fed will be done
hiking rates. Even if inflation has been coming down, it's remained stubbornly
above the Fed's comfort level and is still causing pain for all kinds of
households, particularly ones with lower incomes.
That has some investors continuing to prepare for a coming recession, even
if they keep pushing out predictions for when it will arrive by a few months.
"It's been an odd and uneven recovery" coming out of the recession caused
the COVID pandemic, Northwestern Mutual's Schutte said. "It's been an odd and
even push into recession."
Another warning sign for skeptics is how much of the S&P 500's gains have
been concentrated this year within just a handful of stocks.
Hopes for a pause by the Fed have helped big, high-growth stocks in
particular. Investors see them benefiting the most from easier interest rates
because that's what's happened in the past.
Add on top of that euphoria around artificial intelligence fanned by last
month's tremendous sales forecast by Nvidia, and just seven stocks have been
responsible for the majority of the S&P 500's gain this year.
Nvidia, Apple, Microsoft and other Big Tech giants have so much influence on
the S&P 500 because they're the biggest, and the index gives more weight to
stocks based on their size. Nearly half the stocks in the S&P 500, meanwhile,
are down for the year so far.
Thursday's gains for the S&P 500 offered a good example. It rose largely
because of Big Tech, which gained as expectations built for the Fed to take a
pause on rates next week.
That was because a report showed the highest number of U.S. workers applied
for unemployment benefits last week since October 2021. It helped push against
pressure that may have built for tougher policy after central banks in Canada
and Australia hiked their own rates recently.
But the S&P 500 was nearly split between winners and losers. Smaller stocks
in the Russell 2000 index, meanwhile, slipped 0.4%.
The arrival of a bull market also doesn't mean the stock market has made it
back to its prior heights. Because of math, a 25% drop for the S&P 500 requires
a 33% rally to follow in order to just get back to even.
GameStop was one of Wall Street's bigger movers Thursday, falling 17.9%
after ousting its CEO who was brought in to turn around the struggling video
game retailer. The company, whose stock became a sensation in 2021 during the
meme-stock craze, also reported weaker revenue for the latest quarter than
Adobe rose 5% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after it announced
a new artificial-intelligence offering for businesses. It joined the AI frenzy
that supporters say will be the next revolution to remake the economy. Critics
say it's inflating the next bubble.
All told, the S&P 500 rose 26.41 points to 4,293.93. The Dow gained 168.59
to 33,833.61, and the Nasdaq rose 133.63 to 13,238.52.
After the unemployment data hit the market, Treasury yields gave up gains
from earlier in the morning. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.71%
from 3.78% late Wednesday. It helps set rates for mortgages and other important
The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, fell to
4.51% from 4.55%.