Stocks within the U.S. have entered a “bear” market because the Dow closed greater than 20% beneath its peak final month, ending a record-long bull run that began in 2009 after the Great Recession.

The downturn has been swift and sudden. The index reached a document excessive of 29,551 factors on February 12. It shed another 1,400 points on Wednesday for a complete drop of 20.3% since its earlier excessive, assembly the 20% threshold that defines a bear market.

Investors are fleeing shares amid mounting concern concerning the impact of the coronavirus on companies and customers, with some economists saying it may set off a recession this yr. The World Health Organization stated Wednesday that the outbreak spreading across the globe can now be characterised as a pandemic, which pushed shares to decrease ranges in afternoon buying and selling. Corporate earnings development is more likely to “collapse” within the second and third quarters as companies really feel the hit of the coronavirus, which is curbing journey and spending, Goldman Sachs analysts predict.

“Financial market panic” is including to the financial stress, in accordance with Oxford Economics chief U.S. economist Gregory Daco. “The lack of a coordinated health, fiscal, and Federal Reserve response is further feeding the frenzy of surging volatility, plunging stock prices, and widening corporate spreads.”

The S&P 500 additionally loved a document excessive lower than a month in the past, when it peaked at 3,386 on February 19. But since then the broad-based index has shed 19.1% of its worth, placing it on the cusp of a bear market.

What comes subsequent?

Already, the inventory plunge has worn out a yr of market good points that had lifted the fortunes of many Americans and bolstered retirement portfolios. Through Monday’s shut, the U.S. inventory market had shed $6.5 trillion in worth since its February excessive, in accordance with S&P Dow Jones Indices senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt.

A bear market differs from a “correction” in its severity, with the latter referring to a decline of 10% from shares’ most up-to-date excessive. Such declines may ship completely different alerts concerning the state of the economic system.

Corrections are common during bull markets — they’re seen as painful, however regular, as a result of they will puncture speculative bubbles just like the run-up in dotcom shares twenty years in the past. They additionally give buyers an opportunity to purchase shares at decrease costs.

Bear markets are a lot rarer, occurring on common about as soon as a decade. They additionally usually — although not at all times — foreshadow a recession.

Even as markets gyrate, nevertheless, the important thing for buyers is to remain calm and concentrate on their long-term targets, equivalent to saving for retirement, Dan Keady, chief monetary planning strategist at monetary companies agency TIAA, instructed CBS MoneyWatch.

“No matter the situation today, which is obviously very anxiety-producing, the best thing is to tune out the noise,” he stated. “The first thing is to understand your time horizon. Short-term money doesn’t belong in the stock market, regardless of where the stock market is going.”

The excellent news? Bear markets often do not final as lengthy bull markets, in accordance with monetary agency Invesco. The typical bear market lasts simply shy of a yr and wipes out about 34% of the inventory market’s worth. But timing the tip of a bear market could be difficult, which is why funding execs usually advise long-term buyers to carry onto their shares.

And regardless of the coronavirus, Wall Street expects markets and the broader economic system rebound later this yr.

“By year-end, economic and earnings growth will be accelerating, the fed funds rate will be at the zero lower bound and the impact of any fiscal stimulus will be flowing through to consumers,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a word to purchasers on Wednesday.

Goldman’s prediction for the S&P 500 at year-end? At 3,200 factors — or about 17% greater than Wednesday’s closing worth.

The Dow and S&P 500 each fell greater than 20% from their latest highs Wednesday in gentle of coronavirus fears, however solely the Dow closed the day officially in bear market territory.

The S&P 500 completed the day at 2,741, down about 5% for the session and about 19% beneath the all-time excessive it closed at on February 19.

The tech heavy Nasdaq is additionally 19% beneath its all-time excessive. Two different key market indexes, the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJT) and the small-cap targeted Russell 2000 (RUT), are already in a bear market.

The S&P 500 was final in a bear market in late 2007, 2008 and early 2009 — through the peak of the Great Recession and Global Financial Crisis. The index fell greater than 56% from its peak earlier than bottoming out.

Stocks have soared since then, with the S&P 500 greater than quadrupling from its March 2009 low, a acquire of over 300%.

The blue chip index is now solely 33 factors away from becoming a member of the Dow in bear standing, given the latest massacre on Wall Street. It’s unsure how lengthy this market downturn will final — and the way extreme it will likely be.

In the final bear market earlier than 2008, the burst of the tech inventory crash/dotcom bubble of 2000-2002, the S&P 500 misplaced practically half its worth.

Still, not all bear markets final that lengthy or have shares plunge fairly as a lot. That was the case within the early 1980s, when shares fell a much more modest (by at present’s requirements) 27% between 1980 and 1982 as a consequence of sky-high inflation and rising rates of interest. The Black Monday bear market of 1987 lasted just a few months.

There are hopes that the coronavirus outbreak will result in solely a brief pullback in earnings and financial development and that gross sales, earnings and GDP will rebound by the tip of the yr. But it is nonetheless too quickly to say.

It’s additionally value noting {that a} bear market doesn’t should essentially result in — or occur throughout — a recession. It’s the job of the National Bureau of Economic Research to determine when the economy is in recession — not the inventory market, and definitely not inventory market prognosticators

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