S+P 500 closes above 2000 for first time

By Dow Jones newswires

Then massive bear markets twice sent the S&P tumbling below 1000, first with the collapse of the technology-stock bubble and then with the financial crisis. "Everybody lost money twice in the last 16 years and pretty painfully so," RBC's Mr Golub said.

Back in 1998, investors "talked about a new economy then, meaning everything was going to be better than it was going to be in the past," Steven Wieting, global chief investment strategist at Citi Private Bank, said. "Now when they talk about the new normal, or new neutral… the idea is that everything is going to be worse.

The S&P 500 rose nearly 27 per cent in 1998, marking the fourth consecutive year the index gained more than 20 per cent, according to FactSet.

In 2000, stocks turned, with the Nasdaq Composite Index reaching a peak it still hasn't matched 14 years later and the S&P posting a yearly decline of 10 per cent.

In 1999, the S&P rose 19. 5 per cent. "Investors were feeling pretty good," Sam Stovall, a US equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ, said.

In 1998, "We had a very, very rosy view of the economy… with new technologies being introduced, the optimism was extraordinary," Jonathan Golub, chief market strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said.

Low interest rates have added to the allure of stocks in recent years, helping fuel the S&P's push above 2000.

Market analysts looking for signs that the S&P can keep rising have taken heart in the differences in investor sentiment, and stock valuations, between now and the heady days of the dot-com bubble.

On Tuesday, investors were focused on M&A activity and a report showing an increase in optimism among US consumers, helping drive the S&P up 2. 10 points to 2,000. 02.

The stocks in the S&P 500 were trading at 23. 1 times their expected 12-month earnings as of March 31, 1998, according to FactSet.

Back in March 1998, General Electric was the largest company in the index by market value, and it had a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 30. 9, according to FactSet. That ratio was 14. 8 as of Friday.

Investors pulled money from US stocks in 2008 for the first time in at least 16 years, according to Lipper.

Read more here: Business Spectator


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