The Charging Bull, sometimes referred to as Wall Street Bull, a bronze sculpture in the Financial District of Manhattan with a face mask in New York on Jan.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY | AFP | Getty Images

Here’s a market milestone to illustrate just how breathtaking the recovery rally was: the S&P 500 has just doubled in level from its pandemic lows.

The broad equity benchmark has recovered 100% on a closing basis from its Covid low of 2,237.40 on March 23. It took the market 354 trading days to get there, which is the fastest doubling in the bull market since World War II, according to a CNBC analysis of data from S&P 500 Global.

The S&P 500 closed on Monday at a record 4479.71, up 0.3% from the day and 100.2% higher than its lowest Covid closing price.

During the financial crisis, the S&P 500 bottomed at 676.53 on March 9, 2009, and the benchmark only doubled that value on a closing basis on April 27, 2011. On average, it takes more than 1,000 trading days for bull markets to hit this milestone , the analysis showed.

“It usually takes many years to double up. This is another way of showing how incredible this bull market has been,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.

Many attributed unprecedented monetary and fiscal incentives for the market to leap out of its massive pandemic slump. At the height of the crisis last year, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates close to zero while flushing the financial markets with $ 120 billion in monthly emergency bond purchases. The bailout came when the S&P 500 suffered its fastest 30% decline in history.

Meanwhile, the government has injected trillions of dollars into the economy on Covid relief spending, sending direct payments and unemployment insurance to many struggling Americans.

Market gains came so fast and violently that they have propelled the S&P 500 about 4% above the average year-end target of 4,328 top Wall Street strategists, according to the CNBC Market Strategist Survey.

While the numbers seem too good to be true, this strong rally has fundamental support – a massive profit comeback. Corporate earnings have jumped from the bottom of the pandemic, with S&P 500 companies posting earnings growth of 53% year over year in the first quarter and up 93.8% in the second quarter, according to Refinitiv.

“This quarter is not only characterized by a multitude of blows, but also by the impressive size of the surprises,” said David Kostin, head of US equity strategy, in a statement. “Companies are confident that rising input costs can be offset or managed. Companies leverage excess liquidity and prioritize investments for growth while maintaining high levels of buybacks.”

The latest surge in stocks came after data showed consumer prices rose more modestly in July than in the previous month. Meanwhile, investors hailed the passage of the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes $ 550 billion in new spending on areas such as transportation and the electricity grid.

The tech sector led the early stage of the historic market rally with a return of 120% from its pandemic low. Investors flocked to tech stocks that benefited from a stay-at-home trend in 2020 while they welcomed the safety of megacap names like so-called FAANG stocks. The sector’s rally slowed in 2021, and troubled value names and stocks tied to economic growth took the baton and sprinted.

These cyclical areas of the market – materials, energy, finance and industrials – have all doubled from their 2020 low thanks to a strong comeback this year as optimism about the reopening increased.

Still, after the high-profile milestone, many expect another bumpy trade and subdued returns. The list of worries is stacking up – the spread of the Delta-Covid variant, slowing economic growth, and a Fed that has started to think about simple policies. In addition, the market has not had a significant retreat in about 10 months.

“While we remain bullish, we haven’t seen even a 5% drop in the cards at any time since last October,” said Detrick.

The Fed is increasingly backing to curb its bond purchases in September and begin reducing purchases about a month later.

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