Contrary to what many believe, the stock market has become less volatile. In fact, the last three years have had just about the smallest fluctuations in the market averages in more than half a century, according to David L. Babson & Co. Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
From 1992 to 1994, the spread between the high and low on the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index has been, respectively, 8% and 9% - just half of the average differential of 18% since the end of World War II.
Since the end of the second world war, there have been 10 years in which the spread exceeded 25%.
But while the overall market has been unusually stable since 1990, there have been a lot of zigzags by both industry groups and by individual stocks. For instance, casinos rose 54% and 53% respectively in 1992 and 1993, but the same category took a big plunge of 23% in 1994.
In terms of individual stocks, when Stratus Computer reported a smaller than expected quarterly earnings gain on Jan. 23 and lowered its expectations for 1995, the price of its shares dropped a steep 28%.