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Bad company

From its low of 667 on March 6, the S&P 500 stock index has zoomed up 65 percent. It's fixing to close today at around 1,100. A logical question to ask is: Have stocks ever had this great a run in such a short period of time? The answer is yes. Many times. Via Barry Ritholtz, Ron Griess and the Chart Store lists the top 50 32-week periods when the S&P has gained 48 percent or more.

The large majority of them were in the Great Depression. The March 2009 to October 2009 stock advance was No. 18 on Griess's list. Only five other 32-week periods on the top-50 list weren't in the 1930s. Of course many of the 1930s advances soon reversed themselves.

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The list is a little misleading because many of the 1930s periods are not mutually exclusive. For instance, the top-gaining 32-week period was from Dec. 10, 1932 to July 22, 1933, in which the S&P went up 93 percent. But the No. 2 period was Dec. 3, 1932 to July 15, 1933, which was substantially the same surge. Still, it's a little disconcerting that many of the market moves of this magnitude on Griess's list could not sustain themselves.


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