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How to invest in a bull market

Karl 25th Mar 2024 One Comment

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When assets continuously rise during a bull market, nothing is more rewarding for investors.

But what causes bull markets? And how do you invest during one?

In this article we’re going to take a look at bull markets, identify a major sector that is currently in a bull run, and take a look at how investors should behave when stock prices are rising.

Scroll down for all the details, or click on a link below to jump straight to a specific section…

What is a bull market?

When prices of financial assets keep on rising, and investors have confidence the upward trend will continue – this is typically known as a ‘bull market.’

While there’s no hard and fast rule, asset prices rise have to be roughly 20%+ in order to be considered to be in bull market territory.

The opposite of a bull market is a bear market. This is where investor pessimism is met with falling prices.

Investor behaviour during bull markets

Bull markets are typically fueled by favorable economic conditions, strong business performance, and a belief among investors that asset values will keep on rising.

As you might imagine, bull markets can promote a fear of missing out (FOMO) among investors. When stock prices are on the up, investors may be keen to  jump on the bandwagon rather than bypass an opportunity to score an easy profit.

Unsurprisingly, bull markets often lead to increased demand for stocks which can contribute to even higher prices. This is why bull markets can be a textbook example of a self-fulfilling prophecy!

How long bull markets last

Again there’s no hard and fast rule with regards to how long bull markets last. However, it’s not uncommon to see a bull run last for months and months, or even years.

According to the Bespoke Investment Group, since 1928, the average S&P 500 bull market has lasted 1,011 days. Interestingly, this compares to an average of 286 days for the average S&P 500 bear market over the same period.

Beware of bull traps

Of course, when stock prices go up, you cannot guarantee that stock prices will continue rising.

This is why any investor chasing ‘easy’ profits should be aware of ‘bull traps’.

A bull trap is where investors believe the stock market will continue to rise, only for the opposite to happen following a quick change of sentiment.

For example, investors could fall for a bull trap if they decide to buy stocks in a perceived ‘bull market’ once stocks dip slightly. That’s because many investors consider these ‘dips’ as a great buying opportunity (see our article that explains the pitfalls of buying the dip).

However, when the expected resume in rising prices fails to materialise, this can cause investors to quickly selloff their assets, fueling a sentiment of falling prices.

How has the stock market performed recently?

It’s fair to say that 2024 has served up a few surprises for investors so far. Here a quick overview of how popular shares indices have performed this year (at the time of writing on Monday 25 March), both in the UK and further afield…

  • FTSE 100. The blue-chip FTSE 100 is up 2.61% since 1 January which isn’t too shabby.
  • FTSE 250. The FTSE 2500, the UK’s second largest index, is up 0.58% since 2024 began.
  • European Indices. Across the continent, investors who’ve put their faith in the DAX 40 – an index consisting of 40 German blue-chips – have been rewarded with a 8.8% return year-to-date. Meanwhile, France’s CAC 40 is up a similar 8.28% over the same period.
  • American Indices.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the oldest, and most commonly followed equity index in the United States and is up 4.37% this year. The Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, is up 11.1%, and the S&P 500 has risen 10.2%

Which sector is currently in a bull market?

Now we’ve compared the performance of major stock market indices this year, let’s take a look one standout sector currently in a bull market: Tech.

2024 has been the year of tech, with the industry absolutely coining it in this year. The ‘Magnificent Seven’ – Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Nvidia and Tesla – have all enjoyed strong gains so far this year mostly thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence.

Of the above tech giants, Nvidia leads the way. The AI chip manufacturer’s share price is up a colossal 98% since January.

Will the tech bull market continue?

Let’s be honest, no one really knows how long any bull run will continue for.

Yes, it’s certainly possible that the current tech bull run will continue throughout 2024 and beyond. Likewise, it’s also possible that the run will grind to a halt for one reason or another – think chip-shortages, a global recession, slowing consumer demand etc…

Remember, everyone can be an expert with the benefit of hindsight!

Yet if you do believe the current tech bull run will continue, then you certainly aren’t alone. According to investing analyst Dan Ives, the industry is set to continue its bull market rally. He explains: “Wall Street expectations are too low ahead of the ‘tidal wave’ of spending on artificial intelligence and cloud computing that’s just around the corner”

Ives goes on to suggest that investors looking to cash in on the current tech boom should make an effort to diversify their holdings. He explains: “Avoid focusing on a single industry within the sector. Technology sector stocks range from semiconductors and solar to software applications and software infrastructure. Consider a mix to diversify your portfolio within the sector.”

For more on why it’s good to mix things up when it comes to investing, see our article that explains the importance of holding a diversified portfolio.

How should you invest in a bull market?

While it may be tempting to follow the crowd and purchase stocks during a bull market run, it’s important to consider that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to accurately determine when a bull market will end.

With this in mind you may be better off foregoing the temptation of trying to predict the direction of a market in order to earn a quick buck. Instead you may wish to focus on a well thought out investment strategy, particularly one that aligns with your investing goals and tolerance for risk.

Also, try to invest for the long run if you can. That way, you’ll less likely to crystallise big losses should a bull run suddenly turn bearish.

Keen to learn more about investing? If so, why not sign up for our fortnightly MoneyMagpie Investing Newsletter? It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Disclaimer: When investing your capital is at risk. Remember, the value of any investment can both rise and fall. Always do your own research. 

MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor. Information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

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Teodora
Teodora
4 months ago

A REALLY INTERESTING ARTICLE!

AND I WANT TO SAY: THE PESSIMISM OF THE INVESTORS ALL OVER THE WORLD WOULD INCREASING!

BECAUSE THE ECONONOMY IS NOT SURE AND SAFE!

AND THAT IS VALID ABOUT ALL THE WORLD!

KIND REGARDS,

TEODORA

21.11.2023

SOFIA

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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