What Are the Terms Bull, Bear, & Stag in the Stock Market?

"Bull", "bear" and "stag" are stock market terms describe a particular type of investor, or a perspective on market conditions. Bull and bear reflect contrasting views on a stock's direction, while a stag is someone who gets in and out of stocks quickly for profit.


Bull Perspectives

A bull market is one that is moving in a positive direction over time. Though daily activities may be positive or negative, the directional trend over the specified period of time is upward. ABC News defined a bull market as one that rises at least 20 percent over a period of time. The longest bull market, from 1987 to 2000, lasted 4,494 days. More recently, in May 2015 CNN noted that the U.S. stock market was in the midst of the third-longest bull market in history.

An investor is described as a "bull" if he is confident in the overall stock market, a sector or a company. For instance, a "bullish" investor on stock XYZ believes that stock will increase in share price in the near-term or long-term. Someone bullish on the stock market believes the broader indices, such as the Dow Jones and NASDAQ, will rise.


Bear Perspectives

A bear market occurs when the direction is negative over time. The most famous U.S. bear market was from September 1929 to June 1932. In that event, the famous stock market crash of Oct. 29, 1929 sparked the Great Depression. During this bear market, the S&P 500 lost 86 percent of its value.

An investor is described as a "bear" if he believes the overall stock market, a sector or a company will decline in the near-term or long-term. A bearish investor may attempt to profit on his convictions by shorting a stock, which means selling borrowed shares and then buying to cover when prices fall.


Stag Investors

Unlike bull and bear, "stag" is a type of strategy rather than a market perspective. A primary meaning is that a stag investor buys shares prior to public trading and then attempts to sell them immediately at a profit. Oxford Dictionaries noted that "stag" is more commonly used in the United Kingdom. It may be defined more generally as someone looking to buy and sell shares in short order to make a profit, such as a day trader. The stag's goal is to profit quickly on a fast-moving trend, rather than buying and holding for the long run.