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The S&P 500 went nowhere Monday, a day with no significant economic news other than the anticipation of Chairman Bernanke's 4 PM appearance at the University of Michigan (underway as I type this). Otherwise, the day was dominated by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) slip below 500 (closing at 501.75, a loss of 3.57%), which was offset by Dell's (NASDAQ:DELL) 12.96% surge on talk of a possible private equity buyout. The index declined at the open, hitting its intraday low, off 0.43%, in the first hour of trading. The index slow rebounded close to the opening price early in the final hour of trading, but the rally lost steam and the index finished the day with a modest loss of 0.09%.

Here is a 5-minute chart of yesterday's struggle:

(click to enlarge)

The index appears to be bumping against a glass ceiling in the 1471-1402 range. The index rose above that level intraday on September 14th, the day after QE4 was announced, and it has struggled at that level for the past three sessions.

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday's preliminary Retail Sales data for the December holiday season could be the catalyst for a move one way or the other.

The S&P 500 is now up 3.12% for 2013 and 0.10% below the interim closing high of January 10, 2013.

From a longer-term perspective, the index is 117.4% above the March 2009 closing low and 6.0% below the nominal all-time high of October 2007.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

For a better sense of how these declines figure into a larger historical context, here's a long-term view of secular bull and bear markets in the S&P Composite since 1871.

Source: S&P 500 Snapshot: Bumping A Glass Ceiling?