Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

'No Frills' Bull Market Latest Wall Street Phenomenon

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

'No Frills' Bull Market Latest Wall Street Phenomenon

Article excerpt

Not to be outdone by other industries in an age of business innovation, Wall Street has come up with a new phenomenon - the ``no frills'' bull market.

As in classic bull markets of yore, stock prices have risen sharply and steadily this year, reaching record highs. Closing in on the second anniversary of the fearsome market meltdown of October 1987, the stock tables seem to proclaim ``What Crash?''

But, from the perspective of many brokers and ivestors alike, many of the once-standard trappings of a great bull market are conspicuously absent.

What kind of bull market is it, for example, when all the brokers aren't getting rich?

Before the big drop in 1987, a membership seat on the New York Stock Exchange was sold for $1.15 million. Last week, the best price a seat could bring was $475,000.

At a time when stock prices are going through the roof, investment firms should be coining money.

Yet the trend in securities-industry profits to be reported soon for the third quarter of the year is ``clearly deteriorating,'' in the words of analyst David Eisenberg at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

In most cases, moves to record peaks in stock prices are accompanied by new highs in trading volume.

But activity this year is running barely ahead of its pace in 1988, when New York Stock Exchange volume was down 14.5 percent from 1987.

On a less measurable level, many market participants say the big gains this year haven't caught the public's fancy the way the good old bull markets did. The story of the market's full recovery from the crash of 1987 isn't drawing anywhere near the attention that the big drop commanded two years ago.

Many observers attribute the dearth of public enthusiasm to a long-standing trend, evident in both government statistics and private surveys, for individual investors to shift away from direct ownership of stocks into alternatives such as mutual funds. …

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