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Stock Market's Three-Year Rally Has Fed to Thank
CNBC.com | February 08, 2012 | 11:08 AM EST

Federal Reserve easing has helped fire up one of the strongest stock market rebounds ever, and the promise of more is keeping it going.

The chart of the S&P 500's more-than-100 percent run—from its March 2009 low of 666 to its current 1340-plus level—generally depicts the most powerful comeback of the past seven cyclical stock market recoveries, Wells Fargo Advisors analysts say.

Yet, unlike some of those other periods, the economic recovery has been sluggish and nearly stumbled.

In the nearly three-year run, the S&P 500 reached its cyclical high of 1,370 in May 2011. That was just before the Fed's "QE2," or its second quantitative easingprogram came to an end at the end of June. The Fed purchased $600 billion Treasury securities under that program in an effort to drive rates lower and send investors into riskier assets — like stocks.

From May through early October, the stock market moved lower as the debt ceiling debate raged in Washington, and the economy and Europe worried markets.

The S&P bottomed in early October at 1,074, just as the Fed embarked on yet another program, " operation twist ." The "twist" involves Fed purchases of longer duration Treasurys, using the proceeds from sales of shorter term securities.

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