The Dow Jones industrial average staged a 370-point rally a couple of weeks ago. It was the fifth attempt in four months to turn around...

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The Dow Jones industrial average staged a 370-point rally a couple of weeks ago. It was the fifth attempt in four months to turn around a market treading close to bear territory.

Calling the stock market’s bottom can be extremely profitable. But spotting the difference between a bottom and a “bear market rally” can confound even seasoned market observers.

“If you know how, please tell me,” says Milton Ezrati, senior economist and market strategist at Lord Abbett & Co.

Ezrati looks at corporate-earnings strength, manufacturing orders and other technical tea leaves to discern when a market bottom is coming.

“Right now, we think the fundamentals are getting increasingly favorable,” he says.

JP Morgan equity strategist Thomas Lee says he’s seen more investors chasing stocks that have begun to rise, a form of “bargain hunting” that is “consistent with a tradable bottom.”