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In One Chart: Stocks have seen the smallest percentage of ‘up’ days since 1974 so far this year

One of the most conspicuous characteristics of the bear market of 2022 has been the stock market’s almost unrelenting grind lower. Unlike March 2020, when most of that year’s volatility was packed into the span of a month, this year’s selloff has dragged on and on.

As it turns out, this is something uncommon in the history of the U.S. stock market, according to an analysis by LPL Financial.

The percentage of “up” days for the S&P 500
SPX,
-0.67%

so far this year through the close on Wednesday stands at just 43.3%, according to Dow Jones Market Data. According to LPL, this is the lowest such percentage since 1974, as the chart below shows.

Including Wednesday, the S&P 500 has finished with a positive daily return during 87 trading days, while 114 have seen it finish lower. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 saw a daily gain during an average of 55.06% of all trading sessions, according to DJMD.

In the chart below, all percentages are for the full year, except for 2022. Due to the timing of this report’s publication, the figures in the chart are accurate through Tuesday’s close.

LPL FINANCIAL

For investors in U.S. stocks, 1974 was one of the worst years in recent memory. The S&P 500, which was first launched in 1957, finished that year down 29.7% without dividends reinvested, according to FactSet data. Since then, only 2008 has seen a larger calendar-year decline.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, calendar years that see such a preponderance of down days tend to conclude with a sizable loss. Among recent years with fewer than 45% of trading days in the green, only 1982 finished with a gain for the year (the S&P 500 rose 14.8% that year).

If there’s a silver lining to be found, it might be that stocks tend to rally the following year. The average return during the calendar years following those listed in the chart above has been 12%, according to LPL Financial.

However, investors should take that figure with a grain of salt, the analyst said, given the small sample size and extreme dispersion of returns within the sample.

The S&P 500 has fallen roughly 22% so far this year through Wednesday’s close, while the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-8.76%

has fallen nearly 32%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.33%

has fallen 16%

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