Many Happy Returns?

January 1, 2010 ( - Major US stock indexes ended what turned out to be a good year on a sour note - albeit on very light trading volume.

How good a year?  During the month of December, the Dow was up 0.80%, the S&P 500 gained 1.78%, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index was up 3.05%,the NASDAQ climbed 5.81%, and the Russell 2000 rose 7.88% (1).      

Quarter-to-date the Dow was up 7.37%, the NASDAQ was 6.91% higher, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index was ahead 5.51%, the S&P 500 closed up 5.49%, and the Russell 2000 rose 3.49%.   

As for 2009?  Well, year-to-date the NASDAQ was up 43.89%, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index gained 27.09%, the Russell 2000 rose 24.45%, the S&P 500 was 23.45% higher, and the Dow gained 18.82%.  And – good as the year-to-date numbers are, if you measure the recovery from the March bottoms, the Dow has rebounded 59.3%, the S&P 500 is up 64.8%, and the NASDAQ has regained 78.9%!

A Look Back

Now, as good as that is, remember than in 2008, the NASDAQ shed 40.54%, the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 closed down 38.68%, the S&P 500 slipped 38.49%, the Russell 2000 lost 34.40%, and the Dow closed 33.84% lower than it began the year.      

And remember that if you lose 50% one year – even if you gain 50% the next year – well, you’re still a long way from “even.”  Still – it’s a start.  And a good one at that.      

(1)Editor’s note:  the returns are not adjusted for dividends.