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A Look At The Past 75 Years of S&P 500 Bull Markets

There have been 11 bull markets since 1949. The current bull has lasted 74 months, placing it 3rd behind the bull market of 1990-2000, which ran for 113 months and the bull of 1949-56, which hung around for 86 months. This current bull’s duration ties it with the bull of 1974-80. The remaining seven bull markets lasted from 26 months to 60 months.

The current bull market recorded its first all-time high on 3/28/13, a good 49 months into its existence. While 49 months is not the longest time needed to record its first high, it is much longer than the average 29 months for all 11 bull markets since 1949 and well longer than the single-digit counts recorded by the three bull markets.

S&P 500 Daily Closing All-Time Highs During Bull Markets 1949-2015

In the week that was, the S&P 500 soared to a new record high on Thursday, and then eked out another on Friday, marking the 105th and 106th all-time highs, respectively. This new-high count ranks the current bull market 4th since 1949, well behind the 308 racked-up by the bull of 1990-2000.

Taking this one step further, we see that 7% of this current bull market’s trading days have been in all-time new high territory. This percentage is much higher than the bulls of 1949-56, 1974-80, 1987-90 and 2002-07, but well below the double-digit percentages registered by the bull markets of 1962-66, 1982-87, and 1990-2000.

History says, but does not guarantee, that we should not count out this bull market just yet. Even though this current bull market’s 106 new highs places it well above the average count of 89 for all bull markets since 1949, we see that secular bull markets have averaged 124 all-time highs, while cyclical bulls saw an average of only 29. Therefore, this bull has 18 more new all-time highs to record before it hits the secular bull market average of 124. In addition, even though the 7% of all trading days in all-time high territory is equal to the average for all bulls since 1949, it is two percentage points below the average for secular bull markets.

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