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Our view at the end of 2014 was that 2015 was likely to be unremarkably flat. This was to be a year where stock appreciation would take a break while sentiment and valuations cooled off and the economy improved (post).
Sideways markets are not unusual. Periods like the one we are in now can last as long as two years. There is no decisively bearish implication of a sideways market either. It is, in fact, a pattern that is common within every bull market, a period of rest between periods of rapid price appreciation. We reviewed this topic in detail here. Similar instances to today are shown below (this and all charts expand when clicked).