The S&P 500 is about a week from making stock-market history for not falling

The U.S. stock market, which is coming off a year that saw it log a series of milestones for strength amid an unprecedented lack of downside, might not be done setting records.

The S&P 500 is nearing another record streak, the latest example of a bull market that just won’t quit.

The index has gone 387 sessions without a 5% drawdown, the second-longest stretch in the history of the index, according to Goldman Sachs data. The longest stretch occurred between 1994 and 1996, and lasted for 394 sessions. If the current trend continues, it will match the longest streak ever at the end of trading on Jan. 18, a Thursday.

Thus far in 2018, the S&P has closed at a record in five straight sessions, something it hasn’t done since 1964. It is poised to end at a sixth straight record on Tuesday.

The S&P is already in its longest-ever stretch without a 3% decline, a drop that is historically extremely common. A decline of such meager magnitude hasn’t occurred since Nov. 7, 2016; the index has been extending this record since surpassing the previous one in October.

 The lack of drawdowns is a sign of how strong the market has been in recent months. The S&P rose 19.4% over 2017, its best year since 2013, and on a total-return basis it has gained for 14 straight months, a record. However, most of the daily gains have been slight, which points to the lack of volatility in markets, which is, as much as the factors driving markets higher, the real cause behind the lack of pullbacks.

Goldman called low volatility “the defining characteristic of the U.S. equity market in 2017.” The investment bank wrote the S&P 500 had a realized volatility score of 7 in the year, which is “ranked in the first percentile since 1930.” It added that “the risk-adjusted price return of 2.9 ranked in the 97th percentile relative to history.”

According to the WSJ Market Data Group, the absolute daily percentage change for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.31% in 2017. It was 0.3% for the S&P, and in both instances, that represents the smallest absolute daily percentage since 1964. For the Nasdaq Composite Index, the absolute daily percentage change was 0.44%, the smallest since 1989.

The average observed one-month volatility in the S&P 500 was lower than any other year since 1970 in 2017, and of the 56 lowest closing levels in the history of the Cboe Volatility Index VIX, (since 1990), 47 of them occurred in 2017. The so-called “fear index” also notched two all-time closing lows.