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It has been a nice year for equities so far in 2013. As good as the gains have been, though, last year was even better! The table below lists all the years since 1928 that the S&P 500 has been up 4% or more YTD through Jan. 22. With a gain of 4.52% in midday trading, 2013 ranks as the 11th best start to the year for the S&P 500, and it is right behind 2012's YTD gain of 4.59% through Jan. 22. For each of the years listed, we also looked to see how the index performed from Jan. 22 through year-end. Overall, the average change has been a gain of 3.93% with positive returns 64.3% of the time. On a median basis, the rest of year gain is even better at 10.85%.

When you compare the performance of the S&P 500 so far this year to 2012, it really is amazing to see how similar to the returns have been. Not only are the returns similar in terms of where they stand now, but also in terms of how the market got here. 2013 and 2012 both also started off the year with the S&P 500 gapping up 1%. As shown in the chart below, the intraday trading during the opening days of both years has been strikingly similar. Now bulls can only hope that 2013 can continue to follow the pattern of 2012.

(click to enlarge)

Source: S&P 500's Best Start To The Year Since ... 2012