Many Happy Returns?

Major U.S. stock indexes ended what turned out to be a good year on a sour note—albeit on very light trading volume.
How good a year?  During the month of December, the Dow was up 0.80%, the S&P 500 gained 1.78%, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index was up 3.05%, the NASDAQ climbed 5.81%, and the Russell 2000 rose 7.88%. (The returns are not adjusted for dividends.)     

Quarter-to-date the Dow was up 7.37%, the NASDAQ was 6.91% higher, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index was ahead 5.51%, the S&P 500 closed up 5.49%, and the Russell 2000 rose 3.49%.  

As for 2009?  Well, year-to-date the NASDAQ was up 43.89%, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index gained 27.09%, the Russell 2000 rose 24.45%, the S&P 500 was 23.45% higher, and the Dow gained 18.82%.  And, good as the year-to-date numbers are, if you measure the recovery from the March bottoms, the Dow has rebounded 59.3%, the S&P 500 is up 64.8%, and the NASDAQ has regained 78.9%.

A Look Back

Now, as good as that is, remember than in 2008, the NASDAQ shed 40.54%, the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 closed down 38.68%, the S&P 500 slipped 38.49%, the Russell 2000 lost 34.40%, and the Dow closed 33.84% lower than it began the year.     

And remember that if you lose 50% one year—even if you gain 50% the next year—well, you’re still a long way from “even.”  Still, it’s a start. And a good one at that.