A bull market most commonly refers to increasing stock prices on exchanges such as the NYSE and Nasdaq. It is also used to describe bond and commodity price increases. A bull market is an indication of overall economic health.
Consumer confidence and positive expectations are characteristics of a bull market. They lead to further speculation and investment in stocks.
A bear market describes stock prices that are declining. They are indicative of lowered expectations and confidence levels. In bear markets, investors are cashing out their stocks and seeking alternative investments. Bear markets are a sign of a weakened economy that is heading toward recession.