The SPDR Energy Select Sector exchange-traded fund fell 1.4% Thursday to close at a 16-month low, enough to kick off a new bear market. Many market participants define a bear market as a decline of 20% or more from a bull market peak. And the ETF tracking the energy sector (XLF), which is one of the S&P 500's 11 key sectors, has now lost 20.3% since closing at a bull-market peak of $77.83 on Dec. 13, 2016, which at the time was an 18-month high. Of the XLE's 32 components, 15 have tumbled more than 20% year to date, and 11 of lost more than 30%. The last bear market for the XLE had ended on March 7, 2016, when the XLE closed 20.5% above its previous bear market low of $51.77 on Jan. 20, 2016. On Thursday, 30 of the XLE's components closed lower, with shares of Marathon Oil Corp. down 3.3% to pace the decliners. Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s stock slumped 3.0%, and was the most active component with 36 million shares traded. The XLE's losses Thursday come a rally in oil prices, as September crude oil futures settled up 0.7%.
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