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Long, sideways market periods lead to big gains

Treading water
Richard Schoenberg | Getty Images

Since peaking out at 2,130.82 (on a closing basis) last May, the S&P 500 has seen its share of volatility. Despite the big swings, though, the index is currently within 3 percent of that all-time closing high from one year ago.

Come this weekend, though, the S&P 500 will have gone a year without making a new 52-week high. While that may not sound like much, given that 2014 saw the fifth most daily closes at an all-time high on record, it has been a bit of an adjustment period for investors.