Do European stocks follow the US on a daily basis?

Do European stocks follow the lead of the US market from the previous day? In other words if, say, the US market is down one day are European stocks more likely to fall in their trading session the following day?

To test this the following chart plots the daily returns of the S&P 500 Index against the corresponding daily return of the EuroSTOXX 50 Index for the following day.

Europe v US stocks_EuroSTOXX 50 v S&P 500 (n-1) [2000-2016]

There is a positive correlation here, but as can be easily seen it is a very weak correlation. And this observation is supported by the very low R2 of 0.05.

So the immediate answer to the question of whether European stocks follow the US is: only very slightly.

However, the following chart is interesting. This next chart plots the daily returns for the two indices as above, but this time it is the daily returns for the same day. In other words, this time the US market movements come after those in Europe.

Europe v US stocks_EuroSTOXX 50 v S&P 500 [2000-2016]

As can be seen, here the correlation is higher than in the above first case. The R2 = 0.3; which while not statistically very significant is quite a bit higher than in the first case.

So, this might suggest that it is the US market that follows Europe.

Is this the case?

Probably not. Rather it is likely to be a feature of the trading hours of the respective markets. The illustration below shows the trading hours for five exchanges.

NB. Strictly, UK and Swiss stocks are not in the EuroSTOXX 50 Index but the exchanges are included here for reference.

Europe v US stocks_exchange hours

The times referenced here are UTC – which are accurate at the time of writing (in May), but will be shifted one hour when countries switch to Daylight Savings Time. However, for the purposes of the discussion here the times are fine, because what we are interested in is the overlap of trading hours at the end of trading in Europe and the beginning of trading in New York each day.

As can be seen, each day there is an overlap of a couple of hours between the Paris and New York exchanges, and longer for Frankfurt and New York. Each day European markets can be active at their open in the morning (reacting to overnight developments – including US stock movements), then often these markets can tread water for a while waiting for the US market to open in the afternoon. The European markets can then take their lead from the US for the rest of their trading day.

The higher correlation seen in the second chart above is therefore probably reflecting this overlap period when European stocks are influenced by what is happening in the US that same day.

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Days of the week

We last looked at the performance of the FTSE 100 Index on the days of the week in September 2014. Time to see if anything has changed.

Longer-term analysis

First, to review how the Index has performed on the different days of the week over a range of periods.

The following chart shows the average returns of the FTSE 100 Index for the five days of the week over the periods 1984-2016, 2000-2016 and 2012-2016. For example, since 1984 the Index has fallen by an average 0.025% on Mondays.

Day of the week performance of FTSE 100 - average return

Broadly, a similar profile of behaviour can be seen over the three periods. Namely, the Index is weak on Mondays and Wednesdays and relatively strong on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The weakest day is obviously Monday, while the strongest day is Tuesday (this profile has been particularly strong in the last four years).

It can be observed that the strength of the market on Fridays has been steadily declining in the three periods shown here.

The following chart is similar to the above except instead of average returns it show the proportion of days seeing positive returns. For example, since 1984 the Index has risen on 49.7% of Mondays.

Day of the week performance of FTSE 100 - positive

The profile seen here is similar to that seen in the first chart. The weak day again is Monday, although here Thursday is relatively stronger.

So, that’s the longer term, let’s look now at the behaviour so far in 2016.

2016

The following chart shows the average returns of the FTSE 100 Index for the five days of the week over the period Jan-May 2016.

Day of the week performance of FTSE 100 [2016] - average return

As for the longer term, Mondays are still weak. However, previously strong Thursday is now the weakest day of the week. So far this year it is Friday that has seen the highest average day returns.

The following chart shows the proportion of positive return days for each day of the week.

Day of the week performance of FTSE 100 [2016] - positive

This chart reinforces the observation that Mondays and Thursdays have been weak so far in 2016. But the day with the most positive day returns has been Wednesday - which arguably can allow it to claim the strongest day of the week crown so far in 2016.

The following chart shows the cumulative performance of the Index for each respective day of the week. For example, the FTSE 100 Index has a cumulative return of 6.6% for all Fridays so far in 2016.

Cumulative performance of FTSE 100 by day of the week [Jan-May 2016]


Further articles on the Day of the Week Effect.

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S&P 500 daily returns heatmap

This updates a previous article with the latest figures for the average daily change and positive daily returns of the S&P 500.

The table formatting and analysis is largely as before; except the charts now use a smoother gradient of colours to indicate number magnitude.

Average daily returns

S&P 500 average daily returns heat map [2015]

Positive daily returns


Other daily return heatmaps.

 

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FTSE 100 daily returns heatmap

This updates a previous article with the latest figures for the average daily change and positive daily returns of the FTSE 100 Index.

The table formatting and analysis is largely as before; except the charts now use a smoother gradient of colours to indicate number magnitude.

Average daily returns

FTSE 100 average daily returns heat map [2015]

 Positive daily returns

FTSE 100 positive daily returns [2015]


Other daily return heatmaps.

 

 

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First trading day of February

Next Monday will be the first trading day (FTD) of February.

Since 1984, the FTSE 100 Index has risen on average 0.56% on the first trading day of February. The index has had a positive return on this day in 58% of years since 1984.

Since 2000, the performance has been even stronger on the February FTD, with an average return of 0.80% on the day, and with positive returns seen in 75% of years (making it the second strongest month FTD of the year).

The following chart shows the returns for every February FTD since 1984.

First trading day of February (1984-2015)

 

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Last trading day of January

Tomorrow will be the last trading day (LTD) of January.

Since 1984 the market has on average risen 0.14% on the LTD of January, with positive returns in 58% of all years (although since 2000 this has fallen to just 31%).

The following chart shows the FTSE 100 Index returns for every January LTD since 1984.

Last trading day of January (1984-2015)

 

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Do the first five days predict the full year?

The January Effect refers to the tendency of small cap stocks to out-perform large-cap stocks in the month of January. However, the term January Effect is used rather loosely to also refer to stocks generally being strong in the first month of the year, and also to how the direction of the market in January forecasts the market direction of the whole year (this latter effect is also termed the January Barometer). [A previous article explained the multiple January Effects in greater detail.]

Here, we are going to look at a variant of the January Barometer to see if the first five days of the year predict the return for the whole year.

First, we will call this variant of the January Barometer: January Barometer (5D).

The bald figures don’t look encouraging: in the 46 years since 1970, the January Barometer (5D) applied to the FTSE All-Share Index has been right in 26 years (57%). In other words in just over half the years since 1970 the first five days of the year have accurately forecast the full year.

But let’s look at this in more detail and see if we can tease anything out of the figures

The following is a scatter chart that plots the return on the FTSE All-Share Index for the first five days of a year against the return for the full year, for the period 1970-2015.

FTSE All-Share Index first 5-days v full year return [1970-2015]

There is a positive correlation here (given by the positive sloping trend line), however the measure of correlation (R2) is very low.

Summary: the chart shows there is a very low level of correlation between first five-day returns and returns for the full year but it is far from being significant.

However, strictly, the January Barometer only says the direction (i.e. positive or negative returns) can be forecast, not the size of returns. In which case the following chart may be more useful. This plots a binary value for each year:

  • 1: if the sign on the full year return was the same as the sign for the return for the first five-days (i.e. either both positive returns or negative returns)
  • -1: if the sign on the full year return was different to the sign for the return for the first five-days

FTSE All-Share Index first 5-days predicts full year [1970-2015]

In this chart we can see the roughly even split between years when the January Barometer (5D) works and those years when it doesn’t. However, the distribution of years when it works is interesting, as there does appear to be a certain clustering of years when the effect works and when it doesn’t.

For example, in the last 20 years the January Barometer (5D) has been accurate 14 times (a hit rate of 70%). And since 2004 there is this rather odd pattern of not working every fourth year.

US presidential elections

US presidential elections also have a four-year cycle. On the chart presidential years are marked with orange bars.

It can be seen that since 2004 the January Barometer (5D) has worked every year except in years before presidential elections.

And, over the longer term, since 1970 the January Barometer (5D) has only failed in three presidential elections (a success rate of 73%).

The outlook for 2016

Generally, the January Barometer (5D) has a low success rate. However, the effect has been more significant in recent years; plus it has a higher significance in US presidential election years (which 2016 is). In 2016 the market was down in the first five days of the year, and so the January Barometer (5D) would forecast a down year with a 73% probability.

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Worst start to the year ever for the FTSE 100

The following chart plots the returns for the FTSE 100 Index over the first five-day trading period of the year.

FTSE 100 Index over first 5 days of year [1985-2016]

As can be seen, the -5.3% return over the first five days of 2016 has been the worst start ever to the year for the FTSE 100 Index since it was formed in 1984.

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Nonfarm payroll

There are many statistics released every month by the U.S. government that investors follow to assess the strength of economy, but one of the most important and widely followed announcement is the nonfarm payroll.

This statistic is released every month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; it gives an overview of the employment situation in the U.S., not including – as the name suggests – farm employees and also a few others such as employees of the government and non-profit organisations.

The specific release of interest is the Commissioner’s Statement on The Employment Situation and the key figure is usually in the first line. For example, the statement of 7 August 2015 starts,

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 215,000 in July..

It is the monthly change in employment (rather than the overall employment number) – and the deviation from the expected figure – that is watched closely.

The monthly nonfarm payroll statistic can have a large impact on financial markets, primarily the US dollar, but also equities and gold. Regarding foreign exchange there has been a small negative correlation between the NFP data and the US dollar Index. Below we will look at the impact on equities.

Nonfarm payroll and equities

The nonfarm payroll statistic is reported monthly, usually on the first Friday of the month. The following chart shows the average daily returns of the S&P 500 Index on the three days around the announcement date:

  • NFP(-1): the average daily return on the day before the announcement
  • NFP(0): on the day of the announcement
  • NFP(+1): one day after the announcement

The results of analysis for two periods are shown:

  • dark bars: 1990-2015
  • light bars: 2006-2015

S&P 500 average daily returns around nonfarm payroll report

The analysis shows that since 1990 the S&P 500 Index on average experiences a negative return (-0.066% ) on the day before the nonfarm payroll announcement, a positive return (+0.068%) on the day of the release, and again a negative return (-0.004%) the day afterwards.

In the last ten years, 2006-2015, the behaviour profile has largely been the same, except the average positive return has been less on NFP day, and the negative return greater the day after.

For reference the average daily return on the S&P 500 Index for all days from 1990 has been 0.03%.

Ref: Schedule of Releases for the Employment Situation


 Extract taken from the newly published UK Stock Market Almanac 2016.

Order your copy now!

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First trading day of January

Since 1984, the FTSE 100 Index has risen on average 0.38% on the first trading day (FTD) of January. The index has had a positive return on this day in 58% of years since 1984.

Since 2000, the performance has been much stronger on the January FTD, with an average return of 0.67% on the day, and with positive returns seen in 69% of years.

The following chart shows the returns for every January FTD since 1984.

FTSE 100 first trading day of January (1984-2015)

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