Laura Banks
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Laura Banks in Markets and everything in & between!,

This bull market in stocks gets more respect than you think

Everywhere I turn these days it seems I hear yet another market guru or commentator claiming that “this is the most unloved stock bull market ever.”

The data disagree. If you are bullish on the belief that the bull market is unloved, you may want to reconsider.

It’s easy to understand why so many advisers are alleging that this bull market is unloved: Bull markets often end when investors are irrationally exuberant. Key benchmarks have set record after record during this bull market. On Monday, for example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.04% the S&P 500 SPX, -0.02% and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.27%  all closed at record levels — the 26th time this year that all three indexes have done so on the same day and another record.

So those who are predisposed to being bullish have an incentive to make it look as though there is plenty of skepticism out there — a robust Wall of Worry for the bull market to continue climbing.

But that doesn’t mean they’re right, especially since there most of them are basing their claims on mere anecdote. But the little amount of hard data that does exist suggests that the current bull market is not the most unloved ever.

Consider the average recommended equity exposure level among short-term market timing newsletters, as measured by my Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which I have been calculating on a daily basis for 20 years. Of the bull markets that have occurred since then, the one from October 2002 until October 2007 was far-less loved.

There are a number of ways to show this, but one is by comparing the average of all daily readings during each bull market. During the 2002-07 bull market, for example, the average HSNSI level was 31.5%, compared to 43.1% in the current bull market. (See chart, below.)

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