The New York Stock Exchange trading floor. The Dow Jones is closing in on a record high, with a bull market that has lasted nine years. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)
The past nine years have been very kind to investors. The S&P 500 has risen a whopping 425 percent, including dividends, during a bull market that is now the longest in history.
Last week, two of the major U.S. stock indexes — the S&P and Nasdaq — crossed all-time highs. The Dow Jones industrial average is closing in on its record high.
We are hitting milestone after milestone: Apple just became the first $1 trillion U.S. public company. Unemployment is the lowest in decades. The economy grew at a 4 percent-plus annual rate in the second quarter.
Of the 486 companies in the S&P 500, 386 beat second-quarter earnings estimates, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices.
U.S. stocks have been on such a tear that a portfolio that was 60 percent U.S. market big caps and 40 percent bonds in March 2009 has grown into 83 percent stocks and 17 percent bonds today.
With the market tipping near its Everest, many investors, including myself, are wondering whether to continue buying stocks or, um, what? Bonds? Cash?
CNBC co-anchor Becky Quick posed the question to billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Thursday, as he celebrated his 88th birthday at a New York City restaurant. “The last time we talked to you, you said you were still buying stocks,” Quick said. “Are you still right now?”
“We’re buying stocks this morning,” said Buffett, who is chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. “I’d rather buy them cheaper,” he said, acknowledging the years-long run-up, “but I’ve been buying stocks since March 11th, 1942.
“I’ve bought them quarter after quarter,” said Buffett, who is worth about $80 billion. “Some of the buys were terrific, some of them weren’t at such good times. I don’t know when to buy stocks, but I know whether to buy stocks. And assuming you’re going to hold them, wouldn’t you rather own an interest in a variety of great businesses than have a piece of paper that’s going to pay you 3 percent in 30 years, or a short-term deposit that pays you 2 percent?”