The day stocks stood still

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(MoneyWatch) The broad U.S. stock market, as measured by the Wilshire 5000, closed down 0.01 percent Tuesday. A similar index, the Dow Jones Total Market Index, closed up 0.01 percent. The Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX), which follows yet another total U.S. market index, remained unchanged for the day.

The upshot? If you had invested $1,000.00, you would have exactly $1,000.00 the following day. What are the odds?

Low. Out of curiosity, I didn't find a single story online noting the sensational event. According to my research, U.S. stocks having no movement in a single day turns out to be quite a rare occurrence. Certainly more anomalous than stocks surging or plunging 5 percent or more in a single day. 

I suspect the reason this didn't make the headlines is that, when it comes to the markets, being rare isn't enough to warrant news coverage. For that, a story must play to readers' emotions. A surge in stock prices elicits greed, while a plunge triggers panic. 

But in reality, yesterday's flat market tells us as much about the future of the stock market as the plunges or the surges do, which is a whole lot of nothing.

So the day stocks stood still won't make financial headlines. But if we were logical, rational beings, it would have.

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    Allan S. Roth is the founder of Wealth Logic, an hourly based financial planning and investment advisory firm that advises clients with portfolios ranging from $10,000 to over $50 million. The author of How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street, Roth teaches investments and behavioral finance at the University of Denver and is a frequent speaker. He is required by law to note that his columns are not meant as specific investment advice, since any advice of that sort would need to take into account such things as each reader's willingness and need to take risk. His columns will specifically avoid the foolishness of predicting the next hot stock or what the stock market will do next month.