Best And Worst S&P 500 Stocks On The Road To Nowhere

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"It's an encouraging milestone because it's the sign that there is life left in this market", said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

The S&P 500 index, the broadest measure of the performance of big American companies, marked the record with a small fall of 1.14 points to close at 2,861.82, capping the 3,453rd day that it has been in bull mode. They say this bull market would have to run until June 2021 to set the record, claiming the longest bull market ran 4,494 days between December 4, 1987, and March 24, 2000.

Wednesday's record is also debatable because Wall Street experts define bull and bear markets differently. The current protracted period actually began in March 2009 amid emergency steps taken by the Federal Reserve, which set ultra-low interest rates and sought to spur investment with billions of dollars in bond purchases in a program known as quantitative easing (QE).

Despite its longevity, the bull market lags others on the basis of magnitude, or the cumulative gain it has generated for investors. The latest leg of the rally has been driven by buoyant economic growth in the United States and earnings being bolstered by tax cuts.

Wall Street stocks have avoided major declines, even as the Fed has pulled back from these easy-money policies. Anticipation around the talks has boosted stocks the last three sessions.

That has led to huge earnings gains. According to them, a bull market begins not when the stocks reach a bottom, but after an interval of recovery - like when the market breaches its previous high.

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If the S&P fails to eclipse that high and drops 20 percent below it, that would signify instead that stocks have been in a bear market since the January peak.

But S&P futures turned lower on Wednesday morning as markets assessed the possible impact of a guilty plea from Trump's former personal lawyer, and the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

"I don't care what a textbook says, that was a bear market", said Michael Batnick, director of research at Ritholtz Wealth Management.

"I think we can still run but I'm cautiously optimistic", Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, told The Post, adding that he is still concerned about the trade war.

Key risks to the bull market include the Fed, which is midway through a cycle of interest rate hikes that analysts worry could ultimately lift borrowing rates to a troublesome level.

The criticism comes ahead of the release of the Fed's minutes of its August policy meeting on Wednesday, which is expected to reaffirm its confidence in the United States economy and its commitment to future rate hikes. It ended Tuesday up 0.21 percent at 2,862.96, helped by consumer discretionary companies. The Treasury held an auction for four-week bills at a rate of 1.910%.

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