NEW YORK -- Talk of a new bull market forming spread throughout Wall Street as the Dow Jones industrials ended the week in that territory. But plenty of bears remain on the prowl, cautioning that stocks remain on unstable ground and that the market could be getting ahead of itself.
The Dow ended Friday at 9,959.71, landing in what's technically bull market ground as it finished 20.9 percent above its Sept. 21 low of 8,235.81. A bull market is defined as a 20 percent or greater recovery from the low.
Still, many analysts and traders called the Dow's move artificial, reasoning that most of the gains from the low point represent a rebound from the massive selloff that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, rather than buying on proof that business is turning around.
"The market has moved off an incredibly depressed level that we got to after forced selling, mostly by insurance companies that had to sell to offset their losses after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," said Todd Clark, co-head of trading at WR Hambrecht. "That created an artificial low price for the stock market. We have simply bounced back to more of an equilibrium."
Many analysts don't expect the market to keep rallying the way it has since that initial post-attack selloff. After all, they say, it's still unclear when the economy will turn around. The market is also vulnerable to political uncertainty as the United States continues to have military forces in Afghanistan.
"I think we have entered a market that is in a trading range until we get more of an idea where the economy is heading," Clark said. "It's premature to call it a new bull market."
Clark predicted that the market's major indicators will trade in a 10 percent range from their current levels; for the Dow, that would be a range of between roughly 9,460 and 10,460.