Born out of financial crisis, bull market nears a record


Associated Press

NEW YORK

The bull market in U.S. stocks is about to become the longest in history.

If stocks don’t drop significantly by the close of trading Wednesday, the bull market that began in March 2009 will have lasted nine years, five months and 13 days, a record that few would have predicted when the market struggled to find its footing after a 50 percent plunge during the financial crisis.

The long rally has added trillions of dollars to household wealth, helping the economy, and stands as a testament to the ability of large U.S. companies to squeeze out profits in tough times and confidence among investors as they shrugged off repeated crises and kept buying.

The question now is when the rally will end. The Federal Reserve is undoing many of the stimulative measures that supported the market, including keeping interest rates near zero. There are also mounting threats to global trade that have unsettled investors.

For such an enduring bull market, it shares little of the hallmarks of prior rallies.

Unlike earlier rallies, individual investors have largely sat out after getting burned by two crashes in less than a decade. Trading has been lackluster, with few shares exchanging hands each day. Private companies have shown little enthusiasm, too, with fewer selling stock in initial public offerings than in previous bull runs.

Yet this bull market has been remarkably resilient. After several blows that might have killed off a less robust rally – fears of a eurozone collapse, plunging oil prices, a U.S. credit downgrade, President Donald Trump’s trade fights – investors soon returned to buying, avoiding a 20 percent drop in stocks that by common definition marks the end of bull markets.

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