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The terms bull and bear are buzzwords which are often used to describe different markets in the financial press and on trading floors but do you know what they mean?
If you have investments, a bull market is what you want as it describes a market where prices are rising. Officially, to be a bull market prices need to have risen 20% from their previous lowest point. When this is the case investor confidence is usually high that the trend will continue and shares will continue to appreciate. A bear market is the opposite, a market characterised by depreciating values and generally negative investor confidence.
Often bull and bear markets will reflect economic conditions. A bull market is typically accompanied by a strong economy and low unemployment whereas a bear market is characterised by a stagnant economy and growing unemployment. However, this is not always the case as this year of extreme market volatility shows – we have already experienced both. In January the FTSE 100 entered bear territory having fallen 20% from its peak in April 2015 but fast forward to July 2016 and after the post-Brexit fall, the appointment of Theresa May as the UK’s new prime minster brought the bull charging back. For how long is anyone’s guess!
Bulls and bears are both fearsome animals, neither of which I’d like to meet in a gladiatorial type arena. Curious as to which would win in a fight between the two I did some googling. It turns out the answer is far from simple with the answers I found going into great detail on the type of bull, how angry each animal is and where the fight takes place!
It struck me as somewhat confusing to differentiate two very different type of investments landscapes, one good, one bad, with two equally formidable animals. Why not bull/bear versus the pretty but not-so-mighty butterfly? Google came up trumps with the answer yet again. It turns out that the markets are not named because of the strength of each type of animal but rather their method of fighting. A bull attacks by thrusting its horns upwards whereas a bear will swipe his paws downwards. So now you know!
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