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A record run — What you need to know in markets on Thursday

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

It’s official: the current bull market is the longest ever.

At least when applying some arbitrary definitions to what constitutes a bull market, a bear market, and when these runs begin and end.

On Wednesday, the post-crisis stock market rally that has sent the S&P 500 up more than 300% celebrated its 3,453rd day without a 20% decline from peak-to-trough on a closing basis. In 2011, the market declined 19.39%, thus keeping the current run intact.

But as Bespoke Investment Group noted late last week, in 1990 there was a 19.92% decline and in 1998 the S&P 500 dropped 19.34%, but to make this run the longest on record the first drop would have to count as a bull market and the second would have to be ignored.

In general, the whole discussion is sort of a mess.

What’s clear is that the “official” definition of a bear market as being a 20% drop from the market’s high obscures that there have been painful drops for investors even during tremendous market runs. And even without a near-20% drop, there have been periods in just the last three years for U.S. stock market investors that were less than exuberant.

Specialist Robert Nelson, right, and trader Gregory Rowe, left, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

President Donald Trump, however, has declared the current bull run as the longest ever, tweeting after Wednesday’s market close, “Longest bull run in the history of the stock market, congratulations America!”

There is no doubt that this market run has been impressive. And a strong second quarter earnings season coupled with some of the best economic growth in years fuels optimism about the market’s future.

Whether it formally qualifies as the longest bull market run on record, then, is the sort of debate that will have to continue among investors and the financial media during the dog days of summer.

On Thursday, the economic data schedule will bring investors the weekly report on initial jobless claims, the FHFA’s June reading on home prices, July data on new home sales, and Markit Economics’ initial look at manufacturing and service-sector activity in August.

And on the earnings side, notable retail names set to report results include Ross Stores (ROST) and The Gap (GPS), while other companies schedule to release earnings include HP (HPQ), Intuit (INTU), Hormel (HRL), and Autodesk (ADSK).

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland