dead cat bounce
n. A temporary recovery from a major drop in a stock's price.
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After glancing at the top-performing funds of the second quarter, investors may be forgiven for wondering if they have somehow gone back to 1999. Many of the old favorites are there:

Munder NetNet, up 36.9 percent for the quarter. Amerindo Technology, up 32.6 percent. Firsthand Technology Value, up 39 percent. In 1999, those three funds more than doubled; Amerindo rose an astonishing 249 percent, including reinvested dividends.

Since peaking in early 2000, all three funds were still down by 80 percent through the second quarter, despite their recent gains. Much the same was true for many other funds at the top of the quarter's lists of the best-performing specialized funds.

So a little skepticism is natural. Are the gains for tech funds, and the broader gains in the Nasdaq composite index, which rose 21 percent for the quarter, the start of a real rally in technology and Internet stocks? Or are they nothing more than what Wall Street inelegantly but descriptively calls a dead-cat bounce? In that case, the run-up will produce disappointment as shareholders wait for profits that never materialize.
—Alex Berenson, “Technology Is Back, but Is It Here to Stay?,” The New York Times, July 06, 2003
Markets like macabre metaphors. When stocks begin to rebound, voices of caution suggest it may be only a dead-cat bounce, a phrase coined in The Financial Times in 1985 by reporters in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to signify a slight rise after a great fall.
—William Safire, “On Language,” The New York Times, September 08, 2002
1985 (earliest)
Shares on the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur stock exchanges managed to claw back about a quarter of Thursday's record losses yesterday, the second day of trading after an unprecedented three-day suspension. …

Mr Daim, in his statement from Kuala Lumpur, asserted meanwhile that the majority of quoted Malaysian companies were fundamentally strong, and predicted that the market would recover next week.

This view is disputed by many investment analysts and economists. Despite the evidence of buying interest yesterday, they said the rise was partly technical and cautioned against concluding that the recent falls in the market were at an end.

"This is what we call a 'dead cat bounce'," one broker said flatly.
—Chris Sherwell, “Singapore stock market stages modest recovery after steep fall,” Financial Times, December 07, 1985
This somewhat gruesome phrase has been in the news lately because it was included in the new Encarta World English Dictionary, which includes English words and phrases from 74 different countries. My favourite word in the new dictionary (so far)? Hands down, it's tickety-boo, a Canadian/British word that means "perfectly fine."
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