It was in late July when the Standard & Poor's 500 index hit a record high. A month later, the index had fallen 12 percent, most of the selling coming over the course of just five trading days.
This latest round of stock selling has lasted longer and pushed the S&P 500 down 10 percent from its July record. Wall Street, with all its axioms and proverbs, likes to call a stock drop of 10 percent a "correction." That characterization assumes the market was wrong. A stock market "correction" to begin 2016 would logically mean the July record was somehow a mistake.
It wasn't. And neither is this sell-off. Both are real and with the drop in prices, real painful for investors.
Prior to the August price drop, the S&P 500 had gone four years without experiencing such a short-term fall in prices. That's a long time for even long-term investors. Historically, index price drops of 10 percent or more happen every year to year and a half. We're told to think long term as investors, but the market doesn't allow much time for reflection. These "corrections" last an average of about 15 days before buyers are attracted back into the market.
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That median will be reached in the week ahead just as American companies begin reporting fourth quarter financial results in bulk.
Also next week, China is due to release its fourth-quarter gross domestic product data. But these are just the statistics for the U.S. stock market. Emotions rule at times like these.
Like the daily stock market, emotions aren't wrong, but they don't always directly follow the data.
Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is the vice president of news. Follow him on Twitter@HudsonsView.