The bull market that began in March 2009 may be over, warned a report from Standard & Poor’s.

Mark Arbeter, chief technical strategist at S&P, cited that the recent “breakdown in commodities, the potential intermediate- to longer-term bottom in the U.S. Dollar Index, the lagging emerging markets… and a weekly momentum divergence on some of the major indices” all indicate that the bull market that commenced more than two years ago is about to expire.

Among the most damning factors weighing on the stock market is that defensive sectors -- including areas like consumer staples, healthcare, telecom, and utilities -- are now outperforming,

“This reflects concerns about the economy, and many times, is a bearish omen for the overall stock market” he said.

Other forces are also at play.

“A breakdown in Treasury yields also suggest that the market may be tracing out a significant top,” Arbeter said.

Indeed, since as recently as April 4, the yield on the 10-Year Treasury has plunged from 3.57 percent to 3.16 percent – an 11.5 percent drop in a little over a month.

However, it was a great ride while it lasted.

From the market bottom of Mar. 9, 2009, the S&P 500 surged almost 76 percent.

Arbeter now expects to see a 15 percent to 20 percent decline in US equities, possibly more, with such weakness extending into 2012.

Commodities, he says, will fall even further.

“The S&P 500 [index]’s breakout to new recovery highs has failed and the recent price formation looks very similar to the market peak in 2007, which also ended with a failed breakout,” he explained.

“The index has broken minor chart and trend-line support in the 1,335 region and is approaching more important trend-line support in the 1,320 area. The next chart support lies in the 1,295 to 1,305 zone, and that is from the pivot low in mid-April. The next piece of chart support would be the lows at 1,250 that occurred during the Japanese [nuclear] crisis.”

Arbeter also believes that commodity prices have peaked “after tracing out some nasty reversals.”

“The next support zone for crude oil is down near $90/barrel,” he said.

“We think gold could fall all the way to the $1,250 to $1,300/oz. region before the next strong buying opportunity will emerge. Silver has some support in the $30/oz. region, but we think it could decline all the way back to the $20/oz. area before this correction ends.”

Arbeter added that copper prices, which have been a good leading indicator for the overall stock market, “have rolled over after tracing out a large topping pattern, another bearish sign for stocks.”