On March 9, 2009 the market downturn fueled by the financial crisis bottomed out as measured by the S&P 500 Index. On that day the index closed at 677. Yesterday, on the bull market’s seventh birthday, the index closed at 1,989 or an increase of about 194 percent. According to CNBC the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased 160 percent and the NASDAQ 267 percent over this seven-year time frame.
With the bull market turning seven, now what? Here are some thoughts and ideas for investors.
How does this bull market stack up?
According to data from the most recent quarterly Guide to the Markets report from JP Morgan Asset Management, the average bull market following a bear market lasts for 53 months and results in a gain of 153%. By both measures this bull market is a long one.
Does this mean that investors should brace for an imminent market correction? Not necessarily but bull markets don’t last forever either.
There have been some speed bumps along the way, including 2011, a sharp decline in the third quarter of 2015 and of course the sharp declines we saw to start off 2016. Again this is not an indicator of anything about the future.
Winners and losers
A commentator on CNBC cited a couple of big winners in this bull market:
- Netflix (NFLX) +1,667%
- General Growth Properties (GGP) +9,964%
Additionally, Apple (APPL) closed at a split-adjusted $11.87 per share on March 9, 2009. It closed at $101.12 on March 9, 2016.
The CNBC commentator cited giant retailer Walmart (WMT) as a stock that has missed much of the bounce in this market, as their stock is up only 42% over this time period.
What should investors do now?
None of us knows what the future will hold. The bull market may be getting long of tooth. There are factors such as potential actions by the Fed, China’s impact on our markets, the threat of terrorism and countless others that could impact the direction of the stock market. It seems there is always something to worry about in that regard.
That all said, my suggestions for investors are pretty much the same “boring” ones that I’ve been giving since I started this blog in 2009.
- Control the factors that you can control. Your investment costs and your asset allocation are two of the biggest factors within your control.
- Review and rebalance your portfolio This is a great way to ensure that your allocation and your level of risk stay on track.
- When in doubt fall back on your financial plan. Review your progress against your plan periodically and, if warranted, adjust your portfolio accordingly.
- Contribute to your 401(k) plan and make sure that your investment choices are appropriate for your time horizon and risk tolerance. Avoid 401(k) loans if possible and don’t ignore old 401(k) accounts when leaving a company.
- Don’t overdo it when investing in company stock.
- If you need professional financial help, get it. Be sure to hire a fee-only financial advisor who will put your interests first.
The Bottom Line
The now seven-year bull market since the bottom in 2009 has been a very robust period for investors. Many have more than recovered from their losses during the market decline of 2008-09.
Nobody knows what will happen next. In my opinion, investors are wise to control the factors that they can, have a plan in place and follow that plan.
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