Key S&P 500 index passes landmark as it goes 3,453 days without major correction
US stock markets passed another landmark on Wednesday as the S&P 500 recorded its longest rally ever, capping a near decade-long Wall Street boom that has gathered pace over the course of this year.
The S&P 500 share index, tracking the 500 biggest public companies in America, closed trading on Wednesday having gone 3,453 days nearly nine and a half years without a fall of 20% or more, which is the measure used by some analysts for handing it the status as the longest bull market in US history.
The record was set with more of a whimper than a roar. The S&P 500 dipped 1 point to 2,861 for the day while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 88 points, or 0.3%, to 25,733, and the Nasdaq composite rose 29 points, or 0.4%, to 7,889. But records were set nonetheless.
Having started in March 2009, following the financial crisis, the longest market rally comes as the global economy continues its recovery from the depths of the last recession.
Although there have been numerous wobbles in the past 10 years, including a sharp correction earlier this year, when S&P fell 10% over two weeks after its January high, the milestone comes with help from corporate tax cuts and the rise of internet companies such as Apple, Amazon and Googles owner, Alphabet.
A loose definition is that a stock market switches from a bear to a bull phase when share prices have risen 20% from the previous low. The bull market continues until there is a 20% decline from the peak, when stocks go back into bear mode.
One theory explaining the stock market terminology comes from the way both animals attack their opponents. A bull thrusts its horns up into the air, while a bear swipes downward.
The previous record bull run started in October 1990, lasting almost a decade until the dotcom bubble burst around the turn of the millennium. There are, however, disputes over the starting point, which could render celebrations over the latest milestone premature.
Some analysts argue that bull and bear market status is unclear, not set in stone, and that identifying the positions reflects an unhealthy obsession with arbitrary turning points in financial markets.
The S&P 500s close at 2,861 points was within touching distance of the record high reached in January. Among the best performers so far this year are Netflix, Twitter, and the watchmaker Fossil.
The rise of the tech firms has boosted the overall value of the US stock market. The five so-called Faangs Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google are together worth more than $3tn (2.3tn), a sum that makes them more valuable than the entire FTSE 100.
Analysts said US stocks could continue rising over the course of this year, although warned against placing faith in arbitrary definitions of strength, such as markets having risen for a period or reaching certain levels.