Image: 123RF/ Margo Harrison
Image: 123RF/ Margo Harrison

Measured by the S&P 500 index, US stocks have now been in a bull market for the longest time in history. Here are five interesting facts about this bull market:

1. How do we know this is a record?

The widely accepted definition is that a bull market exists until an index declines by more than 20% from its high. Although the S&P 500 index has had its ups and downs, it has never come off by 20% during this stretch.

2. When did this bull market start?

Exactly 3,452 days ago today (August 22 2018) on March 9 2009, at the depth of the global financial crisis when stock markets tanked around the world. Since then the S&P is up 320%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index has gone up by 521%. Barack Obama had been president of the US for five months when the bull market started.

Barack Obama. Picture: REUTERS/EVAN VUCCI
Barack Obama. Picture: REUTERS/EVAN VUCCI

3. How long will it last?

The day before it broke the bull record, the S&P 500 reached an intraday record high of 2,873 points, beating its previous record high of 2,872 points on January 26 this year. This suggests that it may have some way to go, but a growing chorus of bears are saying that the US market is due for a major correction due to weak emerging markets and aggressive White House interventions on trade and interest rates.

4. Is it really the longest ever?

Although most agree with the criteria outlined in point 1 above, there are naysayers such as Raul Elizalde, writing for Forbes, who says: 

A more important measurement may be the longevity of economic growth. According to the designation of expansions and contractions of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the US economy has been growing since June 2009.

At 110 months, the current expansion is the second longest in the nation’s history, after the 120-month growth streak recorded between March 1991 and March 2001. The economy will have to grow past June 2019 to surpass it, and there are many questions about whether it can get that far.

5. What is the best-performing stock in this bull market?

You are probably thinking that Apple, Amazon or one of the other giant tech companies has been the fastest growing. You would be wrong. According to Erik Conley, writing on Seeking Alpha, the best-performing stock has been a construction firm called Patrick Industries, which has grown by 24,704% over this period.