A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

What Correction? S&P 500 Drop Among Smallest in Postwar Era

(Bloomberg) -- If the semblance of calm that’s returned to markets sticks, then this will have been a remarkably small correction in U.S. stocks -- despite it having erased $2 trillion at one point.

The sell-off on the S&P 500 Index from the late January peak to last Thursday’s nadir counts as the shortest on record since 1945, and is joint second-lowest in terms of the magnitude, according to an analysis from Bespoke Investment Group. The median postwar decline for corrections from record highs -- drops of more than 10 percent -- is 14.8 percent, the research shows.

What Correction? S&P 500 Drop Among Smallest in Postwar Era

Whether Thursday does indeed prove to mark the bottom of the sell-off is under debate on Wall Street. Brokerages from Morgan Stanley to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have been telling clients to buy back into the equity market, though Nobel laureate Robert Shiller says it’s an open question whether the correction is done. Dennis Gartman says it’s the start of a bear market.

Corrections have lasted a median 153 days, Bespoke’s research showed. There were 19 prior corrections and over the last 30 years they have gotten shorter, according to the analysis, which measured slides of 10 percent or more from all-time highs.

The calm seemed set to continue Wednesday, with futures on the S&P 500 up 0.4 percent as of 8:30 a.m. London time.

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