Unless you are involved in the stock market, or understand the jargon you may not understand what the term bull market or a bear market means. Stock prices are reflected in what is known as the financial market trends. These trends can best be demonstrated in a price chart and the purpose is to pick the best investment and trading opportunities. You may ask what drives these trends. Buyers and sellers are the driving factor, they are also known as the bulls and the bears.
When we say that it is a bull or bear stock market we are talking about the driving force behind the market. The bulls are the buyers so that would make the sellers the bears. Incidentally when we use the term bull or bear we could also be talking about specific securities and sectors.
A bull market is a market that is associated with investor confidence. As a result of this increase in confidence investors are more likely buy in anticipation of making a capital gain. The most memorable and longest running bull market was seen in the 1990s. This was the time when the U.S. and other global markets saw their fastest growth spurt ever.
Just to recap, in a bull stock market the investors are buying. They are looking for more ways to increase their capital gains. So then if it is a bear market, the opposite would be true. Investors will be more pessimistic about buying and are more inclined to sell their stocks to cut their losses. A bear stock market does not come about from a small decline, but a considerable drop in prices over a prolonged period of time. From 1930 to 1932 was probably the most infamous bear market in history. This bear market was the beginning of the Great Depression. There was a much less severe bear market from 1967 - 1983, which included the energy crises of the 1970s and the unemployment surge in the 1980s.
As we already stated a bear stock market does not come about as a result of a small dip in stock prices, it indicates sizable fall in prices over a prolonged period of time. It is most commonly accepted that in order for the stock market it to be considered a bear market there has to be a price fall of at least 20% in a key stock market index from a recent peak that happens over at least two months.
To summarize a bull stock market has investor looking to buy to increase their capital gains. They will be seeking out the best investment opportunities. A bear stock market has these same investors looking to sell their stocks so they can minimize their losses. Historically the U.S. has been a bull market. That is one of the factors why we have been considered the land of opportunity.