“Bull market” and “bear market”— two terms you’ve probably heard tossed around before but may not completely understand. Whether you’re brand new or an experienced investor, it’s good to review how both market types work. So next time you hear news anchors debating, “Are we in a bull or a bear market?” you’ll be able to form your own opinion.
What is a bull market?
The best way to understand a bull market is to visualize a bull charging toward its target. The bull is strong and confident. Though no one knows for sure, a “bull market” likely gets its name from the upward motion of a bull’s attack. During a bull market, equity (stock) prices are on the rise.
It often coincides with a strong national economy.
So what happens during a bear market?
Continuing the “animal analogy,” a bear market is named after the way a bear attacks its prey as well — with a forceful, downward swing. A bear market is commonly marked by falling stock prices.
Characteristics of a bear market include:
Stock prices are declining. Marked by a 20% or more decrease (over 2+ months) from previous highs. This is also measured by a broad market index like the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500.
Investors often feel panicked and pessimistic.
Often the general economy of the country (or at least the economic outlook) isn’t good.
Are we in a bull or a bear market?
Good question. U.S. stock indexes entered a correction (a fall of 10% in the market) in March amid fears of the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy. Many experts had been anticipating, if not predicting, a correction (even before COVID-19), leaving some to believe we were better prepared for it.
As of June 9th, we’ve experienced a wavering of back and forth, or more aptly down and up, from bear to bull market for some time.1 With each bit of positive news — government stimulus checks and packages, COVID-19 research developments, the loosening of social restrictions and the reopening of local economies — there’s been a positive response in the markets.
For some investors, this rollercoaster activity has created opportunity. And for others, heartache.
The only thing you can control is your reaction.
From an investor’s point of view, a bull market can be a dream come true. However, depending on where you are in your retirement savings journey, a bear market could potentially create new investment opportunities.
If you’re wondering, ‘how could a bear market ever be good for me,’ consider the following scenario. During a bear market, stock prices usually drop. So you may be able to purchase new stocks for less, potentially growing the size of your investment portfolio.
That said, with the drop in stock prices, it could also impact the stocks in your portfolio. It’s important not to “panic-sell” your portfolio during a market downturn which locks in your losses and may cause you to miss out on the possible market recovery.
This is why Financial Advisors suggest you create an investment plan with a risk level that you can live with. From there, it’s best to try setting investment goals and contributing to them on a regular basis.
Financial planning and investment advice provided by John Hancock Personal Financial Services, LLC (“JHPFS”), an SEC registered investment adviser. Investments: not FDIC insured – No Bank Guarantee – May Lose Value. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal, and past performance does not guarantee future results. Diversified portfolios and asset allocation do not guarantee profit or protect against loss. Nothing on this site should be construed to be an offer, solicitation of an offer, or recommendation to buy or sell any security. Before investing, consider your investment objectives and JHPFS’s fees. JHPFS does not provide legal or tax advice and investors should consult with their personal legal and tax advisors prior to purchasing a financial plan or making any investment.