Much has been made of the strong rally the market has experienced so far this year, but as we have mentioned numerous times, it's important to remember that last year at this time the market was up even more. On this trading day last year, the S&P 500 was up 11.09% year to date. As of this morning, the S&P 500 was up 8.99% year to date in 2013.
Below is a chart showing the performance of the S&P 500 in 2013 overlaid on a chart of its performance in 2012 through the end of July. As shown, while the S&P 500 was up slightly more in the first quarter of 2012, the index has tracked its 2012 pattern pretty closely in the first quarter of this year. Bulls will be hoping the pattern breaks quickly, however, because the party for stocks ended quickly once the second quarter began last year. In fact, by the start of June last year, the index had given up nearly all of its double-digit percentage gains from the first quarter.