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Keeping Track: bear markets

Stock-market sell-off enters its 28th month

Investors want to know when the bear will let up. Last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below the 9000 level for the first time since Sept. 11. The stock market has been in a slump since April 2000, making the current downturn the longest-running bear market since shortly after World War II.

What should investors do to beat the bear? Market experts say the key is patience. Shareholders must diversify their investments, think long term, and avoid the temptation to abandon the market when it is doing poorly. But as wealth dwindles, such advice is tough to swallow.

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Below are the major bear markets, based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1929.