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Q: With the surge of the stock market into record territory this year, it’s been a while since we’ve heard the term “bear market.” What constitutes a bear market?

A: Any market condition where pessimism runs rampant, investors ignore positive news to focus on the negatives, and where stocks are falling and expected to fall further can be termed a bear.

A big one-day price drop, or even a series of them, isn’t enough to qualify as a bear market.

While there’s no universally accepted definition, a commonly cited one is a decline of at least 20 percent in one or more broad-market indexes over a period of two or more months.

Q: What are “year-over-year” figures?

A:
When analysts want to know just how well a company or industry is performing, they compare current results to ones from a year earlier to see the big picture.

The most popular year-over-year figures are corporate earnings.

Stock analysts don’t just care if a company turns a profit — they want to know how that profit compares to the past.

That’s why a company can make money but still see its stock price decline — because the profit shrank from a year earlier.

Year-over-year figures also help reduce seasonal variations in data.