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The S&P 500 fell at the open Tuesday, despite a surprisingly strong December Retail Sales number, and hit its intraday low, off 0.47%, in the first 15 minutes of trading. The index rallied back to the opening price during the noon hour, but gave back some of the gains by the mid-afternoon. But at 2:30 sharp, the 500 launched a rally that took it into positive territory, and it closed the day with a fractional gain of 0.11%. That was enough to set a new interim high since the March 2009 low.

Here is a 5-minute chart of Tuesday's action.

(click to enlarge)

I mentioned yesterday that the index appeared to be bumping against a glass ceiling in the 1471-1402 range. Tuesday's fractional gain is insufficient evidence to say that level of resistance is behind us. Here is a 30-minute chart since the last day of 2012 to illustrate.

(click to enlarge)

Today's Industrial Production for December could be a significant factor in today's action.

The S&P 500 is now up 3.24% for 2013 and at a new interim high.

From a longer-term perspective, the index is 117.6% above the March 2009 closing low and 5.9% 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: A Fractional Gain For A New Interim High