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Market futures were deflated by higher-than-forecast weekly unemployment claims Thursday, but the S&P 500 nevertheless opened fractionally higher and rallied to its intraday high, up 0.57%, 30 minutes later. The trend reversed to the intraday low in the early afternoon, dipping briefly into the red. But the index reversed again, and finished the day with a gain of 0.40%. All eyes will be on this morning's employment report.

Here is a 15-minute look at the week so far: down, up, down, up -- with that first "up" being the S&P 500's all-time high.

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In fact, a daily chart shows 12 consecutive days of alternating ups and downs -- the longest such stretch since 1981 (a tidbit from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo that I haven't personally confirmed). Volume was light again Thursday but fractionally higher than Tuesday's all-time index high.

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The S&P 500 is now up 9.38% for 2013 and 0.65% below the all-time high on Tuesday.

From a longer-term perspective, the index is 130.59% above the March 2009 closing low.

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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: The Daily Bob Is... Up