Bull Market Officially the Second-Longest Ever

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Investors have reason to cheer. The current bull market is now the second-longest bull market since World War II, even though it is probably the least-loved of the six longest bull markets of the post-war era.

A week ago Monday, Sept. 11 of all days, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s bull market became the second-best performing bull market in the last 72 years.

Stocks have climbed by about 270% from the start of March 2009, or 101 months. By percentage gain, the current bull market has returned the second-highest of any bull market.

The all-time champion is the so-called dot-com bull market, whose duration lasted 113 months before ending in March 2000. That market posted a gain of 417%, according to data from CFRA and S&P Global. However, much of that market gain would be wiped out by the dot-com meltdown, which slashed more than half of the valuation of the tech-heavy Nasdaq Stock Market. That market bottomed out at 1,114.11 in October 2002, and would not surpass its former all-time high until it closed at 5,056.06, more than 15 years after reaching its low.

The current bull market has eclipsed the 267% increase from the post-war, baby-boomer bull market of June 1949 to August 1956.

The ongoing bull market has been abetted by cheap money courtesy of the Federal Reserve,which kept its federal funds rate near zero during 6 1/2 years of the current bull run. This partly explains why this bull doesn’t get the love its predecessors got.

Speaking of the Fed, the central bank Wednesday took its first step toward unwinding its economic stimulus regime and will begin to roll back its $4.5 billion balance sheet in October. The Federal Reserve also said it would not raise its benchmark interest rate from its current range of 1% to 1.25%.

All three stock indexes ended at all-time highs on Tuesday before slightly pulling back after the Fed announcement.

A note from OFI Global, an Oppenheimer Funds Company, in August, suggested that this bull market has some legs left.

“In order for the cycle to end there needs to be a catalyst—either a major policy mistake or a significant economic disruption in one of the world’s major economies,’’ the note said. “In our view, neither appears to be in the offing.’’