Stock Market Statistics in 2020: Your Biggest Questions About the Markets Answered

There are a lot of common questions about the stock market—whether dealing with historical returns, the best performing sectors, or how the United States has performed relative to the rest of the world—that are fascinating data in and of themselves.

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  • Rather than having to scour the internet for answers to these stock market statistics, we’ve put together this list that answers the most common questions—at least outside of “What stock should I buy now?” This should save you some time scouring Google or Investopedia for these common statistical questions.

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  • This is the kind of data a professional analyst may have access to, but may not be able to use it effectively to help pinpoint better investment decisions, or help retail investors improve your trading strategy.

    Consider this page a handy, one-stop guide to some of the most common questions you may have about equity market performance, length, and the size and scope of U.S. versus global stocks, and other facts and stock market statistics.

    Stock Market Returns

    What is the Average Total Stock Market Return?

    On average, the stock market returns about 10 percent per year, as measured by an index like the S&P 500, which, as the name suggests, comprises 500 companies in total. 

    However, that return typically doesn’t include any adjustment for inflation. In recent years, inflation has run around 2 percent, but over the past few decades has been closer to 3 percent. That brings the total returns after inflation down to 7 to 8 percent per year for the stock market as a whole.

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  • Investors who use different periods can get radically different results, either from cherry-picking the start of a long bull market, or from using the top of a bull market to a subsequent bear market to show negative returns. Investors who pick individual stocks, as opposed to a mutual fund or index fund, will likewise see different results.

    What is the Average Stock Market Return over 10 Years?

    Looking over a 10-year period, which encompasses one of the longest and most robust bull markets of all time, the S&P 500 has returned an average over 14 percent per year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a rise of 15 percent per year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq came to a far larger 17 percent return.

    These averages are higher than the market’s long-term average return for a few reasons. First, stock prices were recovering from the financial crisis during most of this period. Second, for most of this period, interest rates remained near zero percent, which were also historic lows. 

    That’s why many financial advisors suggest that these kinds of returns are not infinitely sustainable. Stock market returns increased faster than corporate earnings and profitability, which in turn increased total market valuation.

    What is the Average Stock Market Return over 20 Years?

    Over the past 20 years, the S&P 500 has returned 6 percent, the Dow Jones has returned 7 percent, and the Nasdaq has returned about 9 percent. That’s a period that’s included the end of the tech bubble as well as the end of the housing bubble, hence why the returns over that period are on the lower end of what’s considered average. 

    This period also included an era where short-term interest rates have been as high as the 4-5 percent range, before being cut down to zero. Inflation expectations also continued to decline, a phenomenon that has been going on since 1980, when short-term interest rates made a generational peak.

    What is the Performance of the Dow Vs. the Nasdaq Vs. the S&P 500?

    As seen looking at returns over various periods, the Dow and S&P 500 indices can be found trading similarly. The Dow Jones Industrial Index contains just 30 names, with a focus on established, blue-chip companies as opposed to the wider approach of the S&P 500. 

    The Nasdaq Index, which tends to be the home of tech stocks, has had better performance thanks to the faster growth of names in the technology space—and the smaller stocks the index tends to represent in general. Just beware—that higher return comes with higher market volatility, and the Nasdaq typically has the largest percentage drop in a market decline.

    How Does the Stock Market Fare Versus Bonds?

    Typically, common stocks and bonds move opposite each other, as stocks are more focused on capital gains and bond investors are more focused on income from interest payments. 

    Higher interest rates attract capital to the bond market, and low interest rates drive investors to stocks, where blue-chip dividend companies can be “bond-like” over a multi-year period of time thanks to their steady (and often growing) dividend yields.

    There will be times when markets sell off and the returns on bonds over some timeframe start to look better than stocks, but generally, those periods are brief, and a counterintuitive sign that investors can start buying stocks again after a steep drop.

    How Does the Stock Market do Versus Real Estate?

    That can depend on a variety of factors, such as a property’s location and the amount of leverage involved. Real estate investors tend to point to the use of borrowed funds as much as 5-to-1 as a way of getting solid returns out of housing, whereas in the stock market, most investing there can only leverage up to 150 percent of their capital.

    Secondly, while real estate returns tend to be lower overall at 3 percent per year, the steady cash flow and tax benefits, in addition to the leverage, make returns attractive compared to stocks in many respects. It comes down to how long you expect to hold a property and the potential returns there.

    How Does the Stock Market do Versus Gold?

    Typically, stocks far outperform gold over time, as the yellow metal tends to hold its own against inflation, but has none of the growth characteristics of a business. 

    However, during rare periods, gold can outperform stocks. Investors who hold gold during times of extreme monetary and fiscal stimulus, or during periods when inflation expectations are rising, should expect great returns in gold that can rival that of the stock market. In short, it often comes down to investor sentiment in the space.

    Those who buy gold stocks tend to get a better percentage return compared to buying the metal itself, so there’s no need to have a complete trade-off between gold and stocks themselves.

    Historical Overview Questions

    What are the Biggest Bull Markets We’ve Ever Seen?

    Capital markets can fluctuate wildly in a given year, which can adversely impact stock returns and share prices. Shareholders who hang on for the ride can be richly rewarded in massive up years.

    A bull market is any market rally that ends with a bear market, or a decline of 20 percent or more from its peak. So even with all the stock market’s wild gyrations and pullbacks, declines of 10 or 15 percent aren’t enough to kill a bull market.

    The biggest bull market in history was the one that we just had. Starting in March 2009 and ending in March 2020 after 11 years, it’s one of the longest by length. It also saw the S&P 500 rise by over 350 percent, coming second to the bull market of the 1990’s, which returned just over 415 percent.

    What are the Biggest Bear Markets We’ve Ever Seen? 

    Aside from the Crash of 1929, which saw stocks decline 89 percent from peak to trough by the time that bear market ended in 1932, another big bear market occurred in the 1970’s, when stocks dropped nearly 40 percent over the course of a decade—a decade that was also hobbled with high inflation.

    The 2008 crash was somewhat severe as well, with a decline of over 35 percent from peak-to-trough. And the March 2020 crash saw a 30 percent drop in stocks, although the speed of the subsequent recovery within the span of a few months is NOT how bear market recoveries or recessions typically play out.

    What are the Best Stock Market Returns Over the Past 100 Years?

    In the last 100 years, 1933 is hands-down the best performing year for the stock market with a staggering 66.67 percent return. Of course, that comes off of declines dating back to 1929, when shares fell 89 percent from their highs at the time before bottoming in 1933. Stocks wouldn’t surpass their 1929 levels until the 1950s.

    Other big years for performance include the 38.3 percent rally in 1975, amidst the roaring inflation of the 1970s, and the 33 percent return in 1995, as stocks started to shift into the dotcom bubble.

    What are the Worst Stock Market Returns Over the Past 100 Years?

    2008’s 33.4 percent drop is the worst in recent memory, and will likely remain so. Investors need to go back to the bear market of 1974 for a 27.5 percent drop for anything nearly as ugly, although that followed up on a 16 percent drop in 1973.

    Otherwise, we get back into Great Depression territory, including the 33 percent drop in 1937, and the single-worst performing year in the past century in 1930, when stocks dropped 52.6 percent. That was amidst a cluster of losing years as well from 1929 to 1932, when the average listed company fell 89 percent from the peak.

    The Global Stock Market

    What Percentage of the Total Stock Market Capitalization Does the US Represent?

    As of 2020, the United States contains 54.5 percent of the value of the world’s stocks by market capitalization. 

    That makes it far and away the runaway winner to get a stock quote, as anyone looking for a specific company would likely find it trading in the US compared to anywhere else, and shows America’s strong place in the global economy. It’s also the top market for new stocks, as issuers flock there for the deep liquidity and securities laws.

    The second largest country, Japan, has a mere 7.7 percent of global market capitalization.

    What are the Top 9 Largest Stock Markets by Country?

    Financial markets tilt heavily towards developed countries, with only one country from emerging markets making the list. The top holdings are as follows:

    The United States is far and away the winner with a 54.4 percent share.

    That’s followed by Japan, with a 7.7 percent share.

    Third is the United Kingdom, with a 5.1 percent share.

    Fourth is China with 4 percent.

    Fifth is France with 3.2 percent.

    Sixth is Switzerland with 2.7 percent.

    Seventh is Canada with 2.7 percent.

    Eighth is German with 2.6 percent.

    And ninth is Australia with 2.2 percent.

    What Stock Exchanges in the World Have a Market Cap of $1 Trillion or More?

    The top list of stock exchanges are:

    1. The New York Stock Exchange with $18.17 trillion
    2. The Nasdaq with over $7.05 trillion.
    3. The Tokyo Stock Exchange with over $4.6 trillion.
    4. The Shanghai Stock Exchange with over $3.93 trillion.
    5. The London Stock Exchange with over $3.64 trillion.
    6. The Euronext Amsterdam Stock Exchange with $3.35 trillion.
    7. The Shenzhen Stock Exchange with $3.09 trillion.
    8. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange with $3.02 trillion.
    9. The Toronto Stock Exchange with $1.77 trillion.
    10. The German Stock Exchange with $1.66 trillion.
    11. The Mumbai Stock Exchange with $1.43 trillion.
    12. The Swiss Stock Exchange with $1.42 trillion.
    13. The India National Stock Exchange with $1.41 trillion.
    14. The South Korea Stock Exchange with $1.28 trillion.
    15. The Stockholm Stock Exchange with $1.26 trillion.
    16. The Australia Stock Exchange with $1.2 trillion.

    How Many of the 10 Largest Companies By Market Cap Are From the US?

    A full eight out of ten of the largest companies in the world by market cap are headquartered in the United States. 

    They include:

    • Apple (AAPL)
    • Microsoft (MSFT)
    • Amazon (AMZN)
    • Alphabet (GOOG)
    • Facebook (FB)
    • Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B)
    • Visa (V)
    • And Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
    • The other two companies that make up the top 10 are from China. They include:
    • Tencent (TCEHY)
    • And Alibaba Group (BABA)

    Which Sectors are the Most Powerful Global Industry Sectors?

    Measured by revenues, the 10 largest global industries are:

    1. Health and life insurance: $4.8 trillion
    2. Pension funds: $4.2 trillion
    3. Oil and gas exploration and production: $3.3 trillion
    4. Commercial real estate: $3.1 trillion
    5. Car and automotive sales: $3.1 trillion
    6. Car and automotive manufacturing: $2.9 trillion
    7. General insurance carriers: $2.5 trillion
    8. Auto parts and accessories: $2.3 trillion
    9. Global commercial banks: $2.3 trillion
    10. Global tourism: $1.5 trillion

    Companies & Sectors

    What are the Top 10 Largest Companies in the US by Market Cap?

    These are the ten largest market value stocks on the market:

    1. Apple (AAPL)
    2. Microsoft (MSFT)
    3. Amazon (AMZN)
    4. Alphabet (GOOG)
    5. Facebook (FB)
    6. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B)
    7. Visa (V)
    8. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
    9. Wal-Mart (WMT)
    10. Procter & Gamble (PG)

    What Were the Fastest Growing Publicly-Traded Stocks of the Past 10 Years?

    In the past decade, these top companies have beaten the US stock market by several standard deviations, rewarding the traders who bought and held onto shares for a decade.

    1. Netflix (NFLX): 4,011 percent return.
    2. Domino’s Pizza (DPZ): 3,989 percent return.
    3. MarketAxess Holdings (MKTX): 3,065 percent return.
    4. Exact Sciences (EXAS): 2,628 percent return.
    5. DexCom (DXCM): 2,611 percent return.
    6. Chenire Energy (LNG): 2,424 percent return.
    7. TransDigm Group (TDG): 2,183 percent return.
    8. Broadcom (AVGO): 1,981 percent return.
    9. Fair Isaac (FICO): 1,681 percent return.
    10. United Rentals (URI): 1,600 percent return.

    What Is the Market Cap and Growth of the FAANG Stocks?

    The five-company acronym has been one of the top spots for traders over the past few years, and seems likely to continue, indicating there’s still some value there. That makes them a top investment space today.

    Facebook: $740 billion market cap, 185 percent rally in the past 5 years

    Apple: $1.9 trillion market cap, 169 percent rally in the past 5 years

    Amazon: $1.6 trillion market cap, 455 percent rally in the past 5 years

    Netflix: $210 billion market cap, 477 percent rally in the past 5 years

    Google: $1.0 trillion market cap, 185 percent rally in the past 5 years

    What are the Fastest-Growing US Industries and Sectors? 

    Traders looking for some of the next big winning companies on Wall Street should focus on sectors that have been sporting high growth for their investment dollars. That’s where these sectors come into play:

    1. 3D Printing, revenue growth of 28.8 percent in the past year.
    2. Hydraulic fracturing services, revenue growth of 27.8 percent in the past year.
    3. Autonomous underwater vehicle manufacturing, revenue growth of 26.7 percent in the past year.
    4. Stock and commodity exchanges, up 26.3 percent in the past year.
    5. Medical and recreational marijuana growing, up 25.2 percent in the past year.
    6. Massage franchises, up 23.6 percent in the past year.
    7. Medical and recreational marijuana stores, up 23.4 percent in the past year.
    8. Meal kit delivery services, up 22.8 percent in the past year.
    9. Video conferencing software developers, up 21.4 percent in the past year.
    10. Community housing, up 21.2 percent in the past year.

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