Few investors seem to truly believe in the rally amid lingering concerns over Europe’s debt crisis, a lackluster economic jobs market recovery, and the looming U.S. fiscal cliff. However, the fact remains the S&P 500 has gained 18% this year.

SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) has posted a total return of 17.9% so far in 2012, according to Morningstar. In fact, the blue-chip stock index has more than doubled from the 2009 low of 666.

Still, the S&P 500 has to overcome a key resistance line before investors can get excited about a potential run to all-time highs.

“Stock market action since 2000 has been extremely volatile with two massive bear markets each being followed by a strong recovery rally,” according to ChartOfTheDay.com.

“It is interesting to note that both of these bear market rallies are somewhat similar in form (i.e. strong first-year rally followed by a more moderate rally in succeeding years),” according to a note Friday. “As for the current state of the market, the S&P 500 continues to trade within the confines of its three-year uptrend but is currently testing resistance.”

Indeed, stepping back to look at the long-term charts shows a U.S. stock market that has been seeing shorter rallies. [S&P 500 ETFs Look ‘Tired’ as Rallies Diminsh]

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