If the Bank of Canada announcement proved one thing, it's that it's unlikely this volatility will die down anytime soon. In fact, it could increase, said Sam Stovall, a U.S. equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.
Stovall measures volatility by the number of times the S&P 500 moves up or down by at least 1 percent. In 2013 and 2014 the market either climbed or dropped by 1 percent or more 38 times. That's below the historical average of 54 times a year and a far cry from the 84 ups and downs the market has experienced, on average, since 2000.
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In the last month, though, the S&P 500 has moved by at least 1 percent four times. By his calculations, if things continue as they have been, we'll have 72 of these movements. That's still below the average since 2000, but it would be above the average since 1960.
Another reason why volatility is increasing is that our bull run is lasting longer than usual. The average length of a bull run is four a half years; we're about to enter year seven.
Stovall looked at every bull market since 1949 and found that first year of a bull run had the highest amount of volatility. It goes down in year two and three and starts to climb again in years four, five and six. The longer the bull run goes, the more volatile the market gets, he said.
"The further we go, the more investors anticipate an end to the bull," he said. "Investors are like hyperactive first-graders playing musical chairs. They try to out-anticipate the other, and we're now getting increasingly anxious about preparing for the music to finally stop."