Monday, June 13, 2011

Little Movement in the Market

Despite the fact that the stock market has fallen for six straight weeks now, there still seems to be remarkably little skittishness, at least according to one gauge. If you look at the number of days the S&P 500 has moved - up or down - by more than one percent in a day, we're on track to produce only 25 such days in 2011.

That's a really low number. We had 76 days where the S&P moved by more than one percent last year. In 2009, there were 117 such days, and in 2008, there were 134 -more than half the trading days of the year. By those standards, 2011 is shaping up as inordinately calm.

On the other hand, those calm days don't necessarily portend smooth sailing ahead. Days with little movement don't predict the future so much as they embody the present. The final three months of a bull market tend to have an average of 5.7 days where the S&P falls by one percent, but the first three months of a bear market have 11 such days. If we are headed for a bear, those big swings will come soon enough.

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