(Reuters) - The S&P 500 index .SPX notched its highest ever close on Friday, reaffirming that the bull market was intact, and now the longest running ever, after a steep sell-off seven months ago that tipped the market into a correction.
The benchmark S&P 500 unofficially ended up 0.62 percent at 2,874.67, topping at 2,876.16 after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank’s current approach to gradually raising interest rates was the best way to protect the U.S. economic recovery.
The humming economy has supported the market for most of the year, as have record share repurchase announcements, as companies used a cash windfall from last year’s corporate tax cuts.
The retreat from the previous record on Jan. 26 at 2,872.87 briefly exceeded 10 percent on a closing basis - the definition of a correction - throwing a nine-year bull market off course.
The lowest subsequent S&P 500 close was Feb. 8 at 2,581, marking a nine-day, 10.16 percent fall. The most accepted criteria for a bear market, a fall of 20 percent or more, was not met.
Earlier this week, the S&P 500 briefly traded above the Jan. 26 high, which was also its close that day, but did not end above it.
Friday’s close signified that the correction ended on Feb 8. The bull market started on March 9, 2009 and as of this week is the longest ever in the eyes of many analysts.
Writing by Alden Bentley, Editing by Sue Thomas and Rosalba O'Brien