Are we in a bull market, or has it become a bear? And why do we use those terms to describe the stock markets, anyway?
One popular belief is that the terms are based on the animals’ styles of attack. While a bull attacks by thrusting its horns up, a bear attacks by swiping its paws down. These can be likened to market direction, since markets move up, down and sideways.
In bull markets, prices trend up as financial markets show optimism. In bear markets, prices trend down as financial markets show pessimism. Stagnant markets are a result of continual ups and downs, where market gains cancel losses. On average, bull markets have lasted for eight years with annualized returns of 19% and bear markets have lasted for less than two years with annualized returns of -25%.*