4-year S&P gain hits 131%
BY SARAH PRINGLE, Bloomberg News
NEW YORK -- The Standard & Poor's 500 index's advance above its record close marks a recovery from a bear market that wiped out more than $10 trillion of value from the world's largest stock market.
The gauge rose 10 percent for the first quarter, its best performance in a year.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 increased 0.4 percent to 1,569.19, above its closing high of 1,565.15 from Oct. 9, 2007. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 52.38 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,578.54, reaching another record. U.S. markets were closed Friday.
The S&P 500 remains below an all-time intraday high of 1,576.09. The Dow first surpassed its 2007 high on March 5.
Shares of American companies are rallying as their profits expand for a third straight year and the Federal Reserve commits to continuing its unprecedented monetary stimulus.
Reports this week showing a 5.7 percent jump in durable goods orders and the biggest increase since 2006 for the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities were among the latest data points to fuel optimism in the economy.
The four-year bull market has sent the S&P 500 up more than 131 percent since it reached a 12-year low of 676.53. The rally is extending beyond the average length of bull markets, according to Birinyi Associates data that show cycles since 1962 have an average duration of four years. Of nine advances, four have lasted longer than the mean and the market rose for about six years during those periods.
Shares of retailers, restaurant chains and other companies that depend on discretionary consumer spending jumped more than 233 percent as a group since the bottom of the bear market to lead gains among the 10 main groups in the S&P 500.
Gauges of financial and industrial companies have almost tripled, while technology, commodity and health-care stocks are up more than 100 percent.
Wyndham Worldwide, CBS, Fifth Third Bancorp and Gannett are among six companies in the index that have surged more than 1,000 percent since March 9, 2009.