By any measure, it’s been quite a ride for the S&P 500 during the first half of 2013. The index, which started out on Jan. 2 at 1426.19, rose through the first quarter and continued upward, peaking at a record close of 1669.16 — a 17% gain from the start of the year — on May 21. Indeed, the index managed to find an intraday record high of 1687.18 the very next trading day.
A combination of improvements throughout the economy, especially in the housing markets, a lenient (to say the least) fiscal policy spearheaded by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and an improving unemployment and jobs picture helped ease the way toward ever-higher market gains…
…until the bottom fell out in early June. Blame China and its disappointing growth, or Bernanke for scaring off investors with talk of “tapering,” or blame plain old profit-taking, but the S&P 500 fell 67 points from the beginning of June, slicing nearly 5% off the top.
Of course, that’s the bad news. The good news is the index is still ahead 10% for the year so far, making it a winner in most people’s book. It’s been a pretty nice run for the index, and for some notable companies that have also seen some spectacular — and perhaps unexpected — gains. There’s a flip side to the gains of course, and we’ll get to them, too.
So without further ado, here’s a look back at the three best and three worst performances for the first half of 2013 , with a few honorable mentions to boot: