When people quote the returns of the S&P 500, they like to use the 'price return', as if price returns are the only way that stocks in the S&P 500 can make you money. As you can tell by my sarcastic writing - you're neglecting a pretty big portion of returns - namely, in the form of dividends. In this article we present the 2012 S&P 500 Return calculated correctly.
The 2012 S&P 500 Return
2012 S&P 500 Return: Price vs. Reinvested Dividends
You're looking at the S&P 500 graphed next to SPXT (on marketwatch), the S&P 500 total Return Index. That's right - dividends included. So, all of you who quote the S&P 500 in the future, please use the right index. That ticker goes back to 2009. If you need it on a larger time frame, you can check out the dividend reinvestment calculator for the S&P 500 (like, say, 1876 until today?) right here on this very site. You're welcome!