Last time all 3 stock indexes broke records, a long tumble came next

NYSE, wall street, 1999
Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

Investors are hoping the markets don't look anything like the last time stocks were breaking records simultaneously.

After all three major U.S. stock indexes closed at record highs on Thursday.

The last time the Dow Jones industrial average, Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed together at new highs was Dec. 31, 1999. Bill Clinton was in the White House, "The Green Mile" was in theaters and the dot-com bubble was nearing its apex. In March 2000, that bubble burst and all three indexes plunged.

Since then, it's been more than 4,000 trading days without seeing new highs together.

But before investors start running for the exits, there's something very important to note: 1999 was the end of a long bull run that saw those same three indexes close at record highs together a stunning 131 times from 1986 to 1999, according to the Kensho analytics tool. So even though Thursday's "trifecta" has not happened in a long time, it does not indicate a higher likelihood of a sudden downward move now.

It was a different story in 1999.

By the end of 2000, the Nasdaq was down 39 percent, the Dow 6 percent and the S&P 500 10. Two years after reaching their historic highs together, the Nasdaq had lost half its value, and closed down 52 percent on Dec. 31, 2001. The S&P 500 closed down 22 percent in that time and the Dow 13 percent.

After that, it wasn't until October 2006 that the Dow 30 got back to its previous high. The S&P 500 didn't until May 30, 2007.

Some of the discord in not reaching new highs together is due to the Nasdaq, which only re-reached its 2000 high in April 2015. The Dow and the S&P 500 have hit highs together many times since then, mostly in 2013 and 2014.