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Merrill: Second-longest bull market ever has further to run

Bulls running
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A record level reached by the S&P 500 this week confirmed the current bull market as the second-longest and fourth most powerful in history, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. More importantly, the move formed a chart pattern that could take the benchmark another 12 percent higher, the firm told clients Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the S&P index settled at a record 2,152, 1 percent above the previous peak reached in May 2015, a sign this record-setting rally may continue.

"This confirms that the cyclical bull market from March 9, 2009, has surpassed the length of the June 1949-August 1956 rally to become the second longest cyclical bull market in excess of 20 percent (without a 20 percent drop) since the December 1987-March 2000 advance," wrote Stephen Suttmeier, technical research analyst at BofA Merrill Lynch.

The new high reaffirms the cyclical bull market, which started in 2009, is the fourth strongest on record in terms of percentage change, according to an analysis by the investment bank.

"The March 2009-July 2016 rally of 215.90 percent is closing in on the 228.81 percent gain during the cyclical bull market from August 1982-August 1987," said Suttmeier.

Here's the chart that tells Suttmeier more gains are ahead...