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The debate continues over the path of the market: bloggers continue to be bullish, and strategists are expecting a 20% gain in 2009, but $900 gold, the recent sell-off in stocks and wary economic news has kept bears calling for further declines. On December 1, Birinyi Associates did not necessarily call the bottom, but defined November 20th as the market's low and predicted that it would not decline below that. Since then stocks have traded mostly sideways, with the market currently at the lower end of that trading range.

One point that has escaped many commentators and participants is that by all traditional definitions we have entered a new bull market. With stocks exhibiting such high levels of volatility, most people are likely waiting for sustained gains of 25 - 30% before calling for "the bull market of 2009," but the chart below illustrates that the bull market qualification (a 20% gain from a low) has clearly been satisfied.

click to enlarge

In a recent interview with Forbes.com, Birinyi Associates' Jeff Rubin noted that the current environment is more likely a severe bull market correction. Click here for a link to the interview.

Source: Bear Market Rally or Bull Market Correction?