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NYSE index, S&P 500 near 100% gains from bear-market lows

February 9, 2011 |  5:00 am

As the bull market rolls on, two major U.S. stock indexes are on the verge of joining the 100% Club -- as in, up 100% from their lows set at the bottom of the bear market in March 2009.

The New York Stock Exchange composite index, which tracks all common shares on the Big Board, rose 0.5% to 8,379.85 on Tuesday. That left it up 98.3% from its nadir of 4,226.31 on March 9, 2009.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.4% to 1,324.57 on Tuesday. It’s now up 95.8% from its bear-market low of 676.53.

Bullstat The Dow Jones industrial average is bringing up the rear. At 12,233.15 on Tuesday it was up 86.8% from its 2009 low of 6,547. The Dow will have to reach 13,094 to double from its low.

By contrast, indexes of small- and mid-size stocks crossed the 100%-gain threshold in spring of last year, rebounding much faster than large-stock-dominated indexes -- as is typical in the first stage of a bull market.

The Russell 2,000 small-stock index, which bottomed at 343.26 in 2009, doubled that by last March and at Tuesday’s close was up 137% from its bear-market low.

Technology shares also have led the market rebound. The Nasdaq composite index, at 2,797.05 now, is up 120.5% from its 2009 low. It topped the 100%-gain level in November.

If the S&P 500’s rally can make it past the 100% mark, history is on the side of investors expecting more to come: Of the six bull markets since 1942 that saw the S&P rise at least 100%, the average gain from the bear market low to the next market peak was 244%, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

But the numbers from the last bull market, which ran from October 2002 to October 2007, don’t provide much comfort. The S&P 500 peaked just past the 100%-gain threshold, rising 101.5% from its 2002 low to its all-time high of 1,565.15 on Oct. 9, 2007, before beginning a decline that ended with the 2008-09 crash.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: The bull statue in Lower Manhattan, near Wall Street. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

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