Editor's Note: Jon D. Markman writes a weekly column for CNBC on MSN Money that is republished here on TheStreet.com
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Despite hurricane-force winds, tremendous corporate profitability, a strong economy and buoyant investor sentiment, the stock market has gone absolutely nowhere this year.
Weird, huh? You could have slept through the first three quarters of the year and not missed a thing. The S&P 500, representing large U.S. companies' shares, is up less than a quarter of a percentage point, while the Russell 2000, representing small companies' shares, is up roughly 0.6%.Now here's something that's maybe even a little stranger. The market was in exactly the same shape last year at this time -- precisely flat. The S&P 500 opened for business on the day after New Year's in 2004 at 1111 and closed on Sept. 28, 2004 at 1110. The Russell 2000 opened 2004 at 556 and closed Sept. 28, 2004 at 558. All that lateral travel was just about to end last year at this time, as small stocks ultimately rallied 15% in the last quarter of 2004 and large-cap stocks rose about 9%. And the same is probably about to happen now, with a diabolical twist.