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Heller: Putting Market Volatility into Perspective

Stocks in this article: ^SPX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It looks like we are in the midst of our annual market roller coaster ride, the kind that brings investors great angst, and when happening at this time of year, can put a crimp into that otherwise relaxing vacation. As a value investor I try not to pay a whole lot of attention to daily market moves, which is difficult at times because it's all anyone is talking about.

I am however, fascinated by market history, and believe it is important to review what has happened in the past from time to time because we are soon to forget. Last year, it was the 10% pullback in the S&P 500 between April 2 and June 4 that seemed to indicate we might have a very bumpy summer. It seems like ages ago now but at the time the European financial crisis was in full swing, we were just months away from an election and the employment numbers were horrible. Of course, it turned out to be a pretty good summer for the markets, and between the beginning of June, and Labor Day, the S&P 500 rose 10%. The worries were real, but the market said otherwise.

^SPX Chart ^SPX data by YCharts

Two years ago, between July 22 and Aug. 22, after a relatively calm 2011 up to that point, it looked a bit like 2008/2009 all over again. During those 22 trading days, the S&P 500 fell 16.5%. One of the simple ways that I judge volatility is in terms of daily movements in the S&P 500 closing price that are in excess of 1% either up or down. During the aforementioned period, the Index rose or fell at least 1% 10 times or nearly half of the trading days. What's more, during six of those days, the daily gain or loss was greater than 4%, including four consecutive days between Aug. 8 and Aug. 11. It looked, yet again, like the wheels were coming off but by the following February the S&P had regained all that was lost and more.

^SPX Chart ^SPX data by YCharts

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