This year has been a long, bumpy and winding road for U.S. equity markets. They took a severe hit from the financial crisis, then got back half of what they lost in the stock market rally that followed. As the year ends, the Standard & Poor's 500 sits almost 25% higher than where it was when 2009 began. As for the decade, the index is 23% lower than where it stood 10 years ago.

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