S&P 500 milestones are not as dramatic as those of the Dow 30, but given the fact that the index represents the trading of 500 large-cap stocks, its movement is more telling.
After regaining the 15,000-level in early May, the S&P 500 last week made four runs at its record close of 1527.46 set March 24, 2000 only to fall back. But on May 30, a late rally carried the index to a new record close of 1530.23.
“If I had to pick one item that best describes the current price level it would be the P/E.” Howard Silverblatt, Standard & Poor's senior index analyst, said in a news release after the record close. “If the S&P 500 was selling at the same P/E it was back in March 2000, instead of being at 1527 it would be at 2594 based on trailing 12 month operating earnings or 2404 based on forward estimated operating earnings. "
Leading the pack during the seven-year period between record closes is the energy-based part of the S&P 500, which is up 145.7% -- almost double the gain of the No. 2 sector, materials (up 81.6%). Information technology has performed the worst as a group, down 61.1%.
Here's a history of the index.
The S&P 500, as we know it, was launched in March 4, 1957. Prior to that, the main gauge was the S&P 90.
The S&P 500 did not close above the 100 mark until 1971.
It had climbed above 300 prior to the market crash of 1987. On the day of the crash, Oct 19, it fell from 282.70 to 224.83, a 20% decline.
The index didn't cross the 500-point threshold until March 1995.