The Stock Market in October

We are in the market’s rock’n’roll period of the year. Stock market volatility is fairly even for the first eight months of the year. In other words, historically, from January to August the size of the daily ups and downs of the market are pretty much the same from month to month. But daily volatility starts increasing in September and peaks in October. Since 1984, average daily volatility has increased 50% in this month.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - October (1982-2013)Of course, the 1987 stock market crash greatly influences the calculation of October’s volatility and also therefore its bad reputation among investors. However, this is not strictly fair, as October is one of the stronger months of the year for the market. Since 1984 the average return for the market in October has been 0.8% (ranking it fifth of the 12 months), and over the same period the market’s return has been positive in 77% of years (second only to top month December). As can be seen in the accompanying chart, put 1987 to one side and the record looks pretty positive – the market has fallen in October in only four of the past 22 years.

But the record of October is less good outside of the UK. An academic paper of 2013 analysed 70 of the 78 operational stock markets around the world and found that October was the third weakest month of the year on average for the 70 markets. Only in Bangladesh was October found to be the strongest month.

The month is one of only two months (the other is September) that FTSE 100 stocks tend to out-perform the mid-cap FTSE 250 stocks – since 1986 the FTSE 100 Index has on average out-performed the FTSE 250 Index by 0.8 percentage points in October.

October is important as marking the end of the weak six-month period of the year (which starts with “Sell in May”). So this month investors may be looking to increase their exposure to equities anticipating the coming strong six-month period November-April; which might partly explain the last trading day of October which is the strongest last trading day of a month in the year.

In an average month for October the market tends to rise in the first two weeks, then to fall back, before a surge in prices in the last few days of the month.

Diary

Dates to watch for this month are: 3 Oct – US Nonfarm payroll report, 9 Oct – MPC interest rate announcement, 28 Oct – Two-day FOMC meeting starts.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on October.

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First trading day of October

Tomorrow will be the first trading day (FTD) of October.

Since 1984, the FTSE 100 Index has risen on average 0.19% on the October FTD. The index has had a positive return on this day in 60% of years since 1984.

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

First trading day of October (1984-2013) [2014]

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Shares that like/dislike October

Shares that like October

The following table lists the four FTSE 350 shares that have the best returns in October over the last ten years. For example, Tate & Lyle has an average return of 6.1% for the month of October. Each stock has risen in October in nine of the past ten years, while Diageo is the only FTSE 350 stock to have risen in every October for the past ten years.

Company TIDM Avg(%)
Tate & Lyle 6.1
Marks & Spencer Group 5.2
Restaurant Group (The) 3.9
Diageo 3.0

Shares that dislike October

The following table lists the three FTSE 350 shares that have the worst returns in October over the last ten years. For example, William Hill has an average return of -4.4% for the month of October. All four stocks have fallen in October in at least eight of the past yen years.

Company TIDM Avg(%)
William Hill -4.4
Tullett Prebon -4.2
Centrica -1.6

An equally-weighted portfolio of the above strong October stocks would have out-performed every year an equally-weighted portfolio of the above weak October stocks by an average of 7.9 percentage points in October for the past ten years.

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Average market behaviour in November

The following chart plots the average performance of the FTSE 100 Index during November since 1984 (more info on this type of chart).

As can be seen, historically the market has increased, with a few ups and downs, throughout November, ending the month at the month high.

October 2013

The following chart shows the average performance of the market in October (1984-2012) and overlays the actual performance in October 2013.

 

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Last trading day of October

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

As explained in the 2013 edition of the Almanac the LTDs of months used to be stronger than average, but in recent years they have been weak. This is quite different from the first trading days of months which strongly out-perform the average for all days, and where the effect has strengthened in recent years.

Since 1984 the market has on average risen 0.51% on the LTD of October, with positive returns in 72% of all years, which makes it easily the strongest LTD of any month in the year.

However, since 2000 the October has not been so strong: chalking up an average increase of 0.07% on the day.

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

 

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First trading day of October

Tomorrow will be the first trading day (FTD) of October.

As explained in the 2013 edition of the Almanac, the market has a tendency to be strong on the FTD of a month. And this effect has been even more pronounced in recent years.

Since 1984, the FTSE 100 Index has risen on average 0.19% on the October FTD. The index has had a positive return on this day in 62% of years since 1984.

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

First trading day of the month for October for the FTSE 100 Index

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Shares that like/dislike October

Shares that like October

The following table lists the five FTSE 350 shares that have the best returns in October over the last ten years. For example, Diageo has an average return of 3.6% for the month of October. Each stock has risen in at least eight of the past ten years in October – Diageo is the only stock in the FTSE 350 whose shares have risen every October in the past ten years.

Company TIDM Avg(%)
Diageo 3.6
Restaurant Group (The) 3.3
easyJet 11.6
Brewin Dolphin Holdings 6.4
Tate & Lyle 4.8

Shares that dislike October

The following table lists the three FTSE 350 shares that have the worst returns in October over the last ten years. For example, Grainger has an average return of -8.3% for the month of October. All three stocks have fallen in eight of the past ten years in October.

Company TIDM Avg(%)
Grainger -8.3
Dialight -3.0
Worldwide Healthcare Trust -1.8

An equally-weighted portfolio of the above strong October stocks would have out-performed an equally-weighted portfolio of the above weak October stocks by an average of 10.3 percentage points in October for the past ten years.

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The UK market in October

As explained in the 2013 edition of the Almanac, despite its (deserved) reputation for volatility, historically October has been the second strongest month for the UK market.

However, the market does not, of course, increase steadily throughout the month. By looking at the performance of the market in October in past years, a certain pattern of behaviour can be seen.

The following chart plots the average performance of the FTSE 100 Index during October since 1984. For example, since 1984 the index has increased on average by 0.15% on the first trading day of October, and by 0.03% on the second trading day. These average daily returns are used in the chart to plot an average chart of the market for the month (rebased to start at 100).

The chart shows that, historically, the market starts strong in October, generally increasing for the first two weeks (to about the 11th trading day), and then there is a sell-off to around the 20th trading day of the month, when the market rebounds to end strongly.

Why does the market behave like this in October?

There’s no obvious explanation. One reason (and this, again, relies on the strong correlation between the UK and US markets) is that the third-quarter earnings season in the US kicks off around 9 October. So, prices rise in the lead up to company announcements and then sell off on the news. At the end of the month prices may rebound in anticipation of the strong six-month period of the year starting November.

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First trading day of October

Next Monday (1 October) will be the first trading day (FTD) of October.

As explained in the 2013 edition of the Almanac, the market has a tendency to be strong on the FTD of a month. And this effect has been even more pronounced in recent years.

In line with this effect, the October FTD tends to be stronger than the average day in the year, but its strength only places October in the middle ranking of all months. Since 1984, the average return for the FTSE 100 Index on the October FTD has been 0.15% (five times the average return for all days in the year), with a positive return in 61% of all years.

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

 

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