Historical Average Stock Market Returns for S&P 500 (5-year to 150-year averages) - Trade That Swing (2024)

The US stock market has a long history of producing double-digit yearly returns. The average yearly return for the S&P 500 is 10.56% over the last 100 years.

In this article, you’ll find statistics on the average stock market performance over the last 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, 100, and 150 years. As well as insights on when these average returns are useful, when they aren’t, tips for maximizing returns, problems the statistics hide, the biggest up and down years in stocks, and high-return alternative investments to stocks.

This article is updated every couple of months.

Here’s the video summary version of the article:

You may also be interested in the average Nasdaq 100 returns and the average Russell 2000 returns.

While the term “average return” is used, these are actually annualized returns which include any compounding over the time period in question. Annualized returns take the actual percentage difference between one point in time and another, and then provide the yearly return that results in that total percentage return. If we just averaged the returns of each year, this would provide a different total return than what the asset actually achieved.

Average Stock Market Returns Per Year

Here is the summary data of average yearly returns for the S&P 500 over the last 5 years to 150 years.

Years Averaged
(as of end of
February 2024)
Stock Market Average Return per Year
(Dividends Reinvested)
Average Return with
Dividends Reinvested &
Inflation Adjusted
150 Years9.243%6.919%
100 Years10.558%7.404%
50 Years11.298%6.992%
30 Years10.222%7.495%
20 Years9.74%6.96%
10 Years12.681%9.555%
5 Years14.543%9.879%

The data below contains additional information such as returns without dividend reinvestment and inflation-adjusted returns (with and without dividend reinvestment).

Everyone should passively invest some funds. Set it and forget it for 10 years or more to compound your wealth.
The Passive Stock Investing Using ETFs eBook lays out how to do it.

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 150 Years

The historical average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 9.24% over the last 150 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested.

Adjusted for inflation, the 150-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 6.92%.

US Stock Market 150-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends) 9.243%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted 6.919%
Annualized Return (no dividends) 4.743%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted 2.515%

The S&P 500 hasn’t been around for 150 years. The S&P 500 started in 1957. Before this, it was the S&P 90 which was introduced in 1928. Prior to that, other data sources, such as the Cowles Commissions, are used. Robert Shiller, the author of Irrational Exuberance, compiled the data sources that extend back to 1871, and DQYJD further streamlined that data.

All averages are based on monthly average prices, not a specific day. For example, December 2001 to December 2021 for the 20-year average. Since it is a monthly average, you could also think of the time frame as roughly mid-December to mid-December (12 months) as opposed to January 1 to December 31 (12 months).

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 100 Years

The average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 10.56% over the last 100 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested. Dividends account for about 40% of the total gain over this period.

Adjusted for inflation, the 100-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 7.4%.

US Stock Market 100-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends)10.558%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted7.404%
Annualized Return (no dividends)6.542%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted3.502%

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 50 Years

The average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 11.3% over the last 50 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested.

Adjusted for inflation, the 50-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 7.18%.

The big difference between the annualized return and the inflation-adjusted return here has a lot to do with the high inflation of the 1970s through the early 80s.

US Stock Market 50-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends) 11.298%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted 7.179%
Annualized Return (no dividends) 8.29%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted 4.282%

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 30 Years

The average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 10.22% over the last 30 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested.

Adjusted for inflation, the 30-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 7.5%.

US Stock Market 30-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends) 10.222%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted 7.495%
Annualized Return (no dividends) 7.197%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted 5.52%

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 20 Years

The historical average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 9.74% over the last 20 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested.

Adjusted for inflation, the 20-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 6.96%.

US Stock Market 20-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends) 9.74%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted 6.96%
Annualized Return (no dividends) 7.669%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted 4.942%

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 10 Years

The historical average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 12.68% over the last 10 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested.

Adjusted for inflation, the 10-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 9.56%.

US Stock Market 10-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends) 12.681%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted 9.555%
Annualized Return (no dividends) 10.679%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted 7.609%

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 5 Years

The historical average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 14.53% over the last 5 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested. Remember, these figures use monthly averages which make the figures more relevant regardless of the exact day invested.

Adjusted for inflation, the 5-year average stock market return (including dividends) is 9.88%.

US Stock Market 5-Year Average Return

Annualized Return (including dividends) 14.534%
Annualized Return (including dividends) Inflation Adjusted 9.879%
Annualized Return (no dividends) 12.715%
Annualized Return (no dividends) Inflation Adjusted 8.134%

The Stock Market Doesn’t Always Trend

These statistics can make it seem like the stock market marches higher almost every year. But that’s not how stocks always act. Stocks actually tend to move sideways quite a bit of the time. Most of the progress in the stock market over the last 150 years has come in three big moves: mid-40s to mid-60s, 80s-2000, and 2010 to now. The S&P 500 dropped in 2022. It has recovered to new all-time highs in 2024

As the chart below shows, it is also possible to move sideways, with little growth, sometimes for decades. During such times, dividends of a few percent per year would be the only return.

Live SPX Chart on TradingView

Depending on when someone starts investing, there is a bit of luck in terms of how the market will perform after that. If someone started investing in the year 2000, they wouldn’t have seen much profit until 2013. At that point, a big uptrend was underway.

If you started investing in the last 60s, it was dividend income with little to no gains until the 80s.

As you can see from the chart, there have been multiple 10+ year stretches where it wasn’t great to be a buy-and-hold investor.

Averages can sometimes be deceiving. And a 10% average return doesn’t mean you make 10% each year. Some years you are making 20% or 30%. In other years, you watch your account drop, and in other years all you get are dividends with no gains.

Yet despite all that chop, the long-term average stock market return is still 10% for U.S. stocks.

What are the biggest up and down years in the S&P 500?

Going back to 1928, which is before the S&P 500 existed (it was the S&P 90 from 1928 to 1957), the biggest up year was 46.59% in 1933, and the biggest down year was -47.07% in 1931. Stats are from MacroTrends.

To make market average returns means holding through some of these big down years, or finding a way to avoid/reduce them (without missing out on the up years) which helps boost returns.

Here are some other big down and up years for the S&P 90 / S&P 500:

1930: -28.48%
1931: -47.07%
1937: -38.59%
1974: -29.72%
2002: -23.37% (the Nasdaq Composite stock index fell more than 30% in 2002)
2008: -38.49%
2022: -19.44%

1928: +37.88%
1933: +46.59%
1935: +41.37%
1945: +30.72
1954: +45.02%
1958: +38.06%
1975: +31.55%
1995: +34.11%
1997: +31.01%
2013: +29.6%

Here you can see all the up and down years. There are more up years than down years, but there are still lots of down years that investors have to live through.

S&P 500 Returns by Year

192837.88%
1929-11.91%
1930-28.48%
1931-47.07%
1932-15.15%
193346.59%
1934-5.94%
193541.37%
193627.92%
1937-38.59%
193825.21%
1939-5.45%
1940-15.29%
1941-17.86%
194212.43%
194319.45%
194413.80%
194530.72%
1946-11.87%
19470.00%
1948-0.65%
194910.26%
195021.78%
195116.46%
195211.78%
1953-6.62%
195445.02%
195526.40%
19562.62%
1957-14.31%
195838.06%
19598.48%
1960-2.97%
196123.13%
1962-11.81%
196318.89%
196412.97%
19659.06%
1966-13.09%
196720.09%
19687.66%
1969-11.36%
19700.10%
197110.79%
197215.63%
1973-17.37%
1974-29.72%
197531.55%
197619.15%
1977-11.50%
19781.06%
197912.31%
198025.77%
1981-9.73%
198214.76%
198317.27%
19841.40%
198526.33%
198614.62%
19872.03%
198812.40%
198927.25%
1990-6.56%
199126.31%
19924.46%
19937.06%
1994-1.54%
199534.11%
199620.26%
199731.01%
199826.67%
199919.53%
2000-10.14%
2001-13.04%
2002-23.37%
200326.38%
20048.99%
20053.00%
200613.62%
20073.53%
2008-38.49%
200923.45%
201012.78%
20110.00%
201213.41%
201329.60%
201411.39%
2015-0.73%
20169.54%
201719.42%
2018-6.24%
201928.88%
202016.26%
202126.89%
2022-19.44%
2023 24.23%
2024
As March 28
+10%

How to Beat the Market Average Returns

There are a number of ways to beat buy-and-hold. There is of course day trading or swing trading, but those take up more time.

If you are an investor and want to limit your screen time, Steve Burns lays out a “once a month” strategy that beats buy and hold and doesn’t require giving up much time. Unfortunately, even this strategy hasn’t faired as well in the last several years.

Here are the rules:

  • If long, continue to HOLD the S&P 500 ETF if on the last day of the month it will close ABOVE its 200-day moving average.
  • If long, SELL the S&P 500 ETF if on the last day of the month it will close BELOW its 200-day moving average.
  • If in cash (no position), BUY the S&P 500 ETF if on the last of the month it will close ABOVE its 200-day moving average.
  • If in cash (no position), stay in cash if on the last of the month if the S&P 500 ETF is going to close BELOW its 200-day moving average.

The full details of the strategy are available at NewTraderU.

Another strategy is to use the Coppock Curve on a monthly chart.

  • Sell the S&P 500 if the Coppock Curve monthly close is below 0.
  • Buy again when there is a monthly close above 0.

Here is how the strategy worked since 1993 on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). As of March 2024, the Coppock Curve is back above zero since August 2023.

The Coppock Curve has beaten buy and hold in the past, mainly because it helped stay out of two big declines shown on the chart above. But the sample size is small, so the jury is still out on how it does over many trade signals. More research is required into this strategy.

Things to Consider with Long-Term Stock Market Returns

Many people look at average stock returns and they expect that is what they should make each year. That may be the case, but it also may not. Here are some things to consider.

  • These returns are based on the S&P 500 (or other indices discussed). If your only investment is S&P 500 ETFs then you will get similar results to those discussed below. If you have other holdings in your portfolio, your results will be different.
  • For most S&P 500 ETFs the yearly expense ratio charged by the fund is minimal, but it will still reduce your return, and that difference will compound over time.
  • The returns discussed below are based on holding the index or a similar basket of stocks for the prescribed time period. “Trading” in and out of these positions will result in different returns.
  • Reinvesting the dividends has a big impact on performance, as shown in the data below. To get the highest return when stock index investing, reinvest the dividends. Preferably do this through a DRIP or some other program where the dividends are automatically reinvested for you at no charge. This will save the commission costs and the time of having to do it yourself.
  • If you aren’t passively invested in index funds, then the long-term average return of the stock indices is not of much use to you, except for comparing your own results to it.
  • If you are actively trading and making less than the average historical stock return, then you are better off investing in stock index funds and saving yourself time and effort.
  • If your portfolio allocation is different than 100% stock index ETFs, your returns will likely be lower. Gold and bonds have long-term returns that are lower than stocks. If part of your portfolio is allocated to these (and there’s nothing wrong with that), your overall portfolio returns will likely be lower.
  • Inflation is the silent killer of cash and low-return investments. The S&P 500 has handily beat inflation over time. If you keep large amounts of money in a savings account, that money’s buying power is being widdled away by inflation at about 2-3% or more per year. More in 2022 and 2023.

While the long-term average return of the US stock market is roughly 10% per year (based on the S&P 500 index), most people’s average return is less than half of that! A study by JPMorgan found that investors averaged a return of 2.9% per year, while bond and stock returns were much higher over the time frame studied.

Why does this happen? Because most investors buy and sell too much without knowing what they are doing. They buy and sell at the wrong time, but think they’re doing the smart thing.

If you want market average returns, buy-and-hold stock index ETFs.

If you want to beat market average returns, then study how to do that. Don’t actively trade until you have done this. Most short-term traders lose money until they have dedicated significant time, practice, and research to mastering when to buy and sell.

Everyone should passively invest some funds. Set it and forget it for 10 years or more. The Passive Stock Investing Using ETFs eBook lays out the approach that has been compounding people’s wealth for the last 150 years. It shows what to buy, and how to do it.

FAQs

Should I trade or invest?

Do both! If you want to trade, allocate some money to a short-term trading account where you can swing trade or day trade. Swing trading or day trading has the potential to produce higher returns than investing because capital can be compounded more often and large drawdowns can be avoided (with a good strategy). Yet passively investing is also a good idea. Allocate some funds to buying stock index funds. It takes little if any work, and this approach has averaged returns of greater than 10% per year over the long term.
Note: most short-term traders fail (read why here).

Does the stock market always go up?

Over the long term, the stock market has gone up. Yet, in any given year, or even for many years, it may not. Average stock market returns are based on investing for the long term. In any given year the major stock indexes could fall, move sideways, or rise.

What are some high-return alternatives to investing in stocks?

There are a number of alternative investments that yield 10% or more per year.

These include:

  • Comics
  • Art
  • Trading cards
  • Lego
  • Farmland
  • Collectible wine
  • High-end purses/handbags
  • Real estate (residential, industrial)
  • Crypto

Gold has not fared as well. Since 1975 the annualized yearly return is 5.4%. Adjusted for inflation, that is a little over 1.6% per year. Silver has returned 4.93% since 1970, and has about a 1% yearly return factoring for inflation.

Government bonds are a staple in many investment portfolios. Since 1926, these bonds have averaged returns between 5% and 6% per year. High-quality corporate bonds tend to pay 0.5% to 1% per year higher than this.

What are the best-performing stocks and ETFs over the last 10 years, and other time frames?

I maintain regularly updated lists of the Best Performing Stocks and Best Performing ETFs over various time frames. You can check out those articles to see all the statistics.

Trades that last a few weeks to a few months more your style? MyComplete Method Stock Swing Trading Courseguides you through a complete method for swing trading stocks.

By Cory Mitchell, CMT

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is personal investment advice, or advice to buy or sell anything. Trading is risky and can result in substantial losses, even more than deposited if using leverage.

Related

Historical Average Stock Market Returns for S&P 500 (5-year to 150-year averages) - Trade That Swing (2024)

FAQs

Historical Average Stock Market Returns for S&P 500 (5-year to 150-year averages) - Trade That Swing? ›

S&P 500 5 Year Return is at 85.38%, compared to 83.02% last month and 55.60% last year. This is higher than the long term average of 45.20%. The S&P 500 5 Year Return is the investment return received for a 5 year period, excluding dividends, when holding the S&P 500 index.

What is the average return on the S&P 500 5 year period? ›

S&P 500 5 Year Return is at 85.38%, compared to 83.02% last month and 55.60% last year. This is higher than the long term average of 45.20%. The S&P 500 5 Year Return is the investment return received for a 5 year period, excluding dividends, when holding the S&P 500 index.

What is the historical return of the S&P 500? ›

The index acts as a benchmark of the performance of the U.S. stock market overall, dating back to the 1920s. The index has returned a historic annualized average return of around 10.26% since its 1957 inception through the end of 2023.

What was the average return of the stock market in the last 5 years? ›

The average stock market return for the last 5 years was 11.33% (7.28% when adjusted for inflation), for the last 10 years it was 12.39% (9.48% when adjusted for inflation), for the last 20 years it was 9.75% (7.03% when adjusted for inflation), and for the last 30 years it was 9.90% (7.22% when adjusted for inflation) ...

What is the average S&P return over the last 100 years? ›

The average stock market return is about 10% per year for nearly the last century, as measured by the S&P 500 index.

What is the rolling 10 year return of the S&P 500? ›

Basic Info. S&P 500 10 Year Return is at 180.6%, compared to 174.1% last month and 161.9% last year. This is higher than the long term average of 114.4%.

What is a 5 year annualized return? ›

What is 5 year annualized return? A 5-year annualized return, also known as 5-year CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate), is the average annual growth rate of an investment over a 5-year period, considering the effects of compounding.

What is the 20 year historical return of the S&P 500? ›

The S&P 500 returned 345% over the last two decades, compounding at 7.7% annually. But with dividends reinvested, the S&P 500 delivered a total return of 546% over the same period, compounding at 9.8% annually. Investors can get direct, inexpensive exposure to the index with a fund like the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF.

What is the return of the S&P 500 over the last 5 years? ›

Average returns
PeriodAverage annualised returnTotal return
Last year30.7%30.7%
Last 5 years15.9%109.5%
Last 10 years15.7%331.4%
Last 20 years10.8%682.2%

What is the 20 year average return on the S&P 500? ›

The S&P 500 returned 345% over the last two decades, compounding at 7.7% annually. But with dividends reinvested, the S&P 500 delivered a total return of 546% over the same period, compounding at 9.8% annually. Investors can get direct, inexpensive exposure to the index with a fund like the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF.

How much money do I need to invest to make $3,000 a month? ›

Imagine you wish to amass $3000 monthly from your investments, amounting to $36,000 annually. If you park your funds in a savings account offering a 2% annual interest rate, you'd need to inject roughly $1.8 million into the account.

What is the highest 5 year stock returns? ›

Best Performing Stocks Over the Last 5 Years
TickerCompany Name
1CELHCelsius Holdings
2SMCISuper Micro Computer
3NVDANvidia
4AVDLAvadel Pharmaceuticals
6 more rows

How much money do day traders with $10,000 accounts make per day on average? ›

With a $10,000 account, a good day might bring in a five percent gain, which is $500. However, day traders also need to consider fixed costs such as commissions charged by brokers. These commissions can eat into profits, and day traders need to earn enough to overcome these fees [2].

What was the average return of the S&P 500 in the last 150 years? ›

Stock Market Average Yearly Return for the Last 150 Years

The historical average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 9.24% over the last 150 years, as of the end of February 2024. This assumes dividends are reinvested.

What is a conservative rate of return during retirement? ›

Generating sufficient retirement income means planning ahead of time but being able to adapt to evolving circ*mstances. As a result, keeping a realistic rate of return in mind can help you aim for a defined target. Many consider a conservative rate of return in retirement 10% or less because of historical returns.

What is the average annual return if someone invested 100% in stocks? ›

Using Shiller's data, since 1971 the S&P 500 has delivered an annualized return of 7.58%—or 10.51% with dividends reinvested. Investors who keep their money at work in the S&P 500 have been able to enjoy an annualized stock market return of around 10% over the long haul.

What is the return of the S&P 500 for the last 3 years? ›

S&P 500 3 Year Return is at 32.26%, compared to 33.72% last month and 58.99% last year. This is higher than the long term average of 23.25%. The S&P 500 3 Year Return is the investment return received for a 3 year period, excluding dividends, when holding the S&P 500 index.

What is a good return on investment over 5 years? ›

General ROI: A positive ROI is generally considered good, with a normal ROI of 5-7% often seen as a reasonable expectation. However, a strong general ROI is something greater than 10%. Return on Stocks: On average, a ROI of 7% after inflation is often considered good, based on the historical returns of the market.

What is the average return of the S&P 500 last 2 years? ›

Basic Info. S&P 500 2 Year Return is at 15.98%, compared to 16.51% last month and 3.43% last year. This is higher than the long term average of 14.07%. The S&P 500 2 Year Return is the investment return received for a 2 year period, excluding dividends, when holding the S&P 500 index.

How much would I have earned if I invested in the S&P 500? ›

For a point of reference, the S&P 500 has a historical average annual total return of about 10%, not accounting for inflation. This doesn't mean you can expect 10% growth every year; you could experience a gain one year and a loss the next.

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