There's no sugarcoating it: Times are tough in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite, and the S&P 500 are down 15%, 30%, and 21%, respectively, at he halfway point of the year. All of this can seem frightening, but bear markets are as natural as the seasons.
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The S&P 500 index has been pushed into bear-market territory and now trades down roughly 21% year to date. U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) unexpectedly fell 1.6% in this year's first quarter, and recently released data modeling from the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimates that the country's GDP contracted 1% in the recently completed second quarter. If so, that means the economy will have notched two consecutive quarters in decline and likely have entered a recession.