Stocks are in correction territory. How long does that usually last?

February 27, 2020, 5:12 PM UTC

News that the bull market has rapidly turned into a correction has some investors worried. Growing concerns about the extent and longevity of the coronavirus thread, along with increasing corporate warnings tied to the outbreak, have injected an element of uncertainty and disruption that tops even last year’s trade war concerns.

If history is an indicator, though, the downturn might not be an extended one. Since 2008, there have been 14 market corrections in the S&P 500, lasting an average of 94 days, according to data from Yardeni Research. Remove the extended 2008-2009 correction and the average falls to just 61 days.

The length of the current correction, like any stock market adjustment, will ultimately come down to how fast conditions change and the long-term impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. There’s no way to predict that, at present, of course.

Analysts will tell you that past performance is no indicator of future results. But sometimes, history can help give some context to what’s happening in the present.

The longest market correction in the past 20 years took place at the start of the century, with the dot-com crash. That one lasted 929 days and was the worst in the S&P 500’s history.

All totaled, there have been 64 corrections in the S&P 500 since 1929, says Yardeni. One (in early 2018) lasted as little as 13 days. Historically, though, they’ve run an average of 195 days. That average includes major events such as the Great Depression. World War II and the Vietnam War, all of which resulted in significant correction periods.

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