Shares that like November

Shares that have been strong November

The following table lists the five FTSE 350 shares that have the best returns in November over the last ten years. For example, Babcock has an average return of 4.6% for the month of November. Each stock has risen in at least eight of the past ten years in November.

Company TIDM Avg(%)
Babcock International Group 4.6
Compass Group 4.5
CRH 4.3
BT Group 5.3
Greene King 4.8

A portfolio of these four stocks would have out-performed the FTSE 350 Index in November in nine of the last ten years with an average out-performance of 5.2 percentage points each November.

Shares that have been weak November

The following table lists the five FTSE 350 shares that have the worst returns in November over the last ten years. For example, Vedanta Reseources has an average return of -10.5% for the month of November. Each stock has fallen in at least eight of the past ten years in November.

Company TIDM Avg(%)
Vedanta Resources -10.5
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (The) -8.7
Tullett Prebon -7.8
Ashmore Group -5.3
Standard Chartered -3.7

A portfolio of these five stocks would have under-performed the FTSE 350 Index in November in eight of the last last ten years with an average under-performance of 6.7 percentage points each November.

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Last trading day of October

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

Historically, the last trading day of October has been the strongest LTD of any month in the year. Since 1984 the market has on average risen 0.46% on the LTD of October, with positive returns in 69% of all years.

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

FTSE 100 last trading day of October [1984-2015]

As can be seen on the chart the market only fell twice on the October LTD in the 19 years from 1984 to 2002. One possible reason for this may have been that November is the start of the strong six month period of the year (this is part of the Sell in May effect), and investors could have been buying equities at this time in anticipation of that.

However, in recent years this pattern of behaviour has changed. Quite dramatically so – in the last seven years the market has only risen once on the October LTD. Last year (2015) the FTSE 100 Index was down 0.5% on the last trading day of October.

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The Stock Market in October

October can be a volatile month for equities. Since 1984, seven of the 10 largest one-day falls in the market have occurred in October. The largest fall happening on 20 October 1987 when the FTSE 100 Index fell 12.2%. And since 1970 the average month return for the stock market has been 0.4% ­ ranking October 9th of the 12 months. So, this would appear to bode ill for investors in October.

However, if you look at the accompanying chart you will see why averages don’t tell the whole story and how things have changed in recent years. For example, since 1992 the market has only fallen in five years (and two of those of year were the exceptional years of 2008 and 2009). And since 2000 the average stock market return for month has been 1.7%, making it the second best month for equities after April.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - October (1984-2015)

The strength of equities in October may not be unconnected with the fact that the strong six-month period of the year starts at the end of October (part of the Sell in May effect) and investors may be anticipating this by increasing their weighting in equities during October. But while October, therefore, should be regarded as a good month for shares, any occasional weakness in the month can be severe.

The average October

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 (Sell in May effect ­ aka Halloween effect ­ again!)

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 0.7 percentage points in October.

Diary

Dates to watch out for this month are: 7 Oct – US Nonfarm payroll report (anticipated), and 13 Oct – MPC interest rate announcement at 12 noon.

And, finally, for connoisseurs of market anomalies, here’s a good one. An old Wall Street adage goes, “Sell before Rosh Hashanah; buy before Yom Kippur”. This observation was first made for the London market in 1915, and research shows it would still seem to apply in both the UK and US markets. Rosh Hashanah falls on 2 October and Yom Kippur is on 11 October.

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Sell Rosh Hashanah, Buy Yom Kippur

In 1935, the Pennsylvania Mirror referred to a Wall Street adage, “Sell before Rosh Hashanah; buy before Yom Kippur”. Recently an academic paper quoted this article and set out to establish if the adage was true and still valid today.

The theory is that the market is weak during the approximately seven trading-days gap between the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah ) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). To test this theory the authors studied the results of short-selling the Dow Jones Industrial Average on one of the three days before Rosh Hashanah and buying back on one of the three days following Yom Kippur. They analysed the nine different combinations of trade dates, i.e. selling on the third day before Rosh Hashanah (R-3) and buying back on the day after Yom Kippur (Y+1), R-3 and Y+2, R-3 and Y+3, R-2 and Y+1 etc. The period tested was 1907 to 2008.

The paper found that the mean returns for the DJIA for the nine trade dates considered ranged from -0.47% for R-3 and Y+2 (i.e. shorting three days before Rosh Hashanah and covering two days after Yom Kippur) , to -1.01 for R-2 and Y+1.

In other words, they found that the market had indeed been weak between the two Jewish holidays, and that five of the nine scenarios yielded statistically significant results. They checked to see if this Jewish Holiday Effect might have diminished in recent years and found that the effect over 1998-2008 was actually stronger for six of the nine trade scenarios than for the prior period 1907-1998.

So, what’s the reason for this?

The authors of the paper found that this was not a result of the influence of other anomalies (e.g. the weekend effect), nor was it the result of data outliers. One Wall Street trader gave the traditional explanation that people of the Jewish religion “wished to be free (as much as possible) of the distraction of worldly goods during a period of reflection and self-appraisal.” Of course Jewish traders are only a small part of the market, but at the margin their withdrawal from the market over this period may increase volatility and risk and thus discourage others from trading, and then the arbitrage traders exploiting the effect can make it self-fulfilling.

Is this a peculiarity of just the US market, or is the effect present in other markets?

The above cited paper starts by quoting a 9 September 1915 New York Times article titled “The London Market Quiet – Jewish Holiday Causes Small Attendance on the Exchange”, the newspaper reported that money and discount rates on the London Stock Exchange were “easy today” and attendance at the exchange was low due to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

So, might this effect still be in force in the London market today?

The following chart shows the mean returns for the FTSE 100 Index for the nine combinations of trade dates (as above) for the period 1984-2013.

Average FTSE 100 returns for period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur [1984-2015]

As can be seen, the market was weak for all nine combinations of trade dates over the Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur period. The weakest combination was for selling on the third day before Rosh Hashanah and buying back on the second day after Yom Kippur (T2) when the mean return has been -1.3%.

The Jewish Holiday Effect would therefore seem to be as strong in the London market as that in New York.


The above is an extract from the Harriman Stock Market Almanac 2017.

 

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The Stock Market in September

After summer the stockmarket tends to burst back into life in September. Unfortunately, the renewed activity in shares tends to be on the downside. Since 1982 the FTSE All Share Index has an average return of -1.1% in this month, this gives September the worst record for shares for any month in the year. And things haven’t improved recently, since year 2000 the average month return in the month has been -1.9%.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - September (1984-2015)

However, although the average return is bad in the month, about half of all Septembers actually have positive returns. The problem is that when the market does fall in this month, the falls can be very large. For example, as can be seen in the accompanying chart, the FTSE All-Share Index has declined over 8% in three years since 2000.

Mid-cap stocks

The situation is even worse for mid-cap stocks. On average the FTSE 100 Index out-performs the FTSE 250 Index by 0.7 percentage points in September – making September, along with October, the worst months for mid-cap stocks relative to the large-caps

Although October has a reputation for being a volatile month for shares (due to some very large market falls in the month, for example in 1987), since 2000 the most volatile month for stocks by a significant margin has been September.

The average September

In an average month for September the market tends to gently drift lower for the first three weeks before rebounding slightly in the final week – although the final trading day (FTD) of the month has historically been one of the weakest FTDs of all months in the year.

In contrast to equities, gold and silver tend to be relatively strong in September.

Sectors

On the sector front, September tends to be good for Electricity stocks, Food & Drug Retailers, Mobile Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, and relatively bad for Aerospace & Defense, Chemicals, Electronic & Electrical Equipment, General Retailers, Media, Technology Hardware & Equipment.

Diary

In the diary this month are: the US Nonfarm payroll report on the 2nd, the NYSE closed on the 5th (Labor Day), ECB Governing Council Meeting on the 8th, MPC interest rate announcement on the 15th, and it’s Triple Witching on the 16th. And, finally, Saturday 10th September will see horse racing at Doncaster – the St Leger Stakes. Of note for those investors who adhere to the adage “sell in May, go away and don’t come back till St Legers day”.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on the market in September.

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The Stock Market in August

August used to be a good month for the stock market, but this has changed in recent years. Indeed, as can be seen in the accompanying chart, the market has fallen by over 6% in this month in two of the last five years. As it’s a month for holidays, trading volumes tend to be low for stocks which in some years can lead to some increased volatility.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - August (1984-2015)

The average August

Historically in a typical August the market tends to drift lower for the first couple of weeks and then increase for the final two weeks of the month. The final trading day of the month has historically been strong.

Sectors

The sectors which tend to be strong in August are Food & Drug Retailers, Gas, Water & Multiutilities, Health Care Equipment & Services and Household Goods; while the only predominantly weak sector is Chemicals.

Historically this has been a weak month for GBP against the USD, and also for silver.

August is the busiest month for FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 interim results announcements: 40 FTSE 100 companies and 87 FTSE 250 companies announce their interims this month.

Diary

Significant dates this month are: the MPC interest rate announcement on the 4th, US Nonfarm payroll report on the 5th, the MSCI quarterly index review announcement on the 11th, and the LSE is closed on the 31st (Summer bank Holiday).

FTSE indices quarterly review

The result of the quarterly FTSE index reviews (including changes for the FTSE 100 and 250 indices) will be announced on the 31st (this announcement of the 3rd quarterly review always used to be made in September, but since the timing was changed recently this can sometimes now take place in August,­ as is the case this year.

Olympics

The major known global event this August will be the Olympic Games. The Olympics generally have little impact on shares worldwide, but where some influence can be seen is in the shares of the host country ­ this year being Brazil. Analysis of stock markets in the year of the games shows that equities in host country markets appear to be weak in the months leading up to the games, perhaps when the media runs stories of cost overruns and missed timetables (interestingly, this has not been the case in Brazil so far this). And then there appears to be a relief rally afterwards.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on the market in August.

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The Stock Market in July

The old stock market adage, “Sell in May and go away” continues, “don’t come back till St Leger’s Day”. However, analysis of the historic data shows that the worst returns over this period occur in May and June. After June, returns up to St Leger’s (in September) tend to be quite flat.

In fact, after traditional weakness in June, prices quite often bounce back in July – making this month a small island of strength in an otherwise weak 6-month period. Since 1970 the FTSE All-Share Index has seen an average return of 0.8% in July, with 52% of years seeing positive returns in this month. This makes July the fourth strongest month of the year for shares.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - July (1984-2015)

As can be seen on the accompanying chart, in recent years shares have been particularly strong in this month. In the past 7 years the market’s returns in July have been over 6% in three years. Currently, July is on quite a run!

The average July

On average the start of the month tends to be strong ­ the first week of the month is among the top ten strongest weeks in the year. After that, the market has a propensity to drift lower for a couple of weeks until finishing strongly in the final week of the month.

FTSE 100 v FTSE 250

July is one of only three months (the others being September and October) where the FTSE 100 tends to out-perform the mid-cap FTSE 250, although the out-performance in July is not significantly large (an average of 0.3 percentage points since 1986). Better is the performance of the FTSE 100 relative to the S&P 500, in sterling terms July is the second best month for the FTSE 100 (an average of 1.0 percentage points since 1984).

Sectors

Historically the sectors that have been strong in July are Chemicals, Personal Goods and Real Estate Investment Trusts while weak sectors have been Gas, Water & Multiutilities, Support Services and Beverages.

Diary

July is a busy month for companies announcing their interim results: 23 FTSE 100 companies will be doing so, and 44 FTSE 250 companies.

On the economics front: there is the US Nonfarm payroll report on the 1st, the MPC interest rate announcement on the 14th, and the two-day FOMC meeting starts on the 26th. The New York Stock Exchange will be closed on 3rd July. And on the outside chance that England don’t win Euro 2016, fans can instead celebrate the 50th anniversary of winning the World Cup on 30th July.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on the market in July.

 

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The Stock Market in June

A quick glance at the accompanying chart (showing the monthly returns of the FTSE All-Share Index in June since 1984) shows that this is not a good month for shares. Historically, the May-June period has been the weakest two-month period in the year for the equity market.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - June (1984-2015)

In the nine years since 2007 the market has only risen in June in one year ­ the average June return over those nine years is -2.8%. And in June last year the index fell 6.%! This dismal record makes June the stand-out worst month for shares in recent years.

Over the longer term the record is a little better, since 1970 the average return in June has been -1.1%, but also over this period it is the only month in the year with more negative returns seen in the month than positive returns.

So, not much cheer to be expected for shares this month.

In an average June the market starts strong, hitting its month high on the second or third trading day, but prices then drift down steadily for the rest of the month, although the market ends the month on a positive note – the last trading day is the second strongest in the year.

Regarding sectors, despite the overall market weakness in June, three sectors have gone against the trend and seen consistent strength in the month: Beverages, Oil & Gas Producers and Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology. But while many sectors not surprisingly experience weakness in June, none are consistently weak over many years.

Not much action on the results front this month, June is the quietest month for results from FTSE 100 companies – just two companies making announcements this month.

This is quite a busy month on the economics front: there is the ECB Governing Council Meeting on the 2nd, US Nonfarm payroll report on the 3rd, FOMC interest rate announcement on the 15th, followed the next day by the MPC interest rate announcement on the 16th. And not to forget Triple Witching on the 17th.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on the market in June.

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The Stock Market in May

It’s Sell in May time again. Already! Often stock market sayings turn out to be unreliable, at best. But the Sell in May aphorism is spookily accurate. It describes the tendency of the market to be weaker from May to October than it is for the other six-month period of the year. How true has this been? Well, in the last 33 years the saying has been right 28 times, and the average annual out-performance of the November-April period since 1982 has been 8.6%. Very few trading systems can match that record.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - Mayl (1984-2015)

Sell in May

Usually stock market anomalies, once they have been identified, don’t last long. But the Sell in May effect has been around for decades ­ one academic paper found evidence of it in the UK market starting from 1694. And the effect is currently as strong as ever. For example, for the latest period: the FTSE All Share Index was up 7.3% over the six-month period Nov 2014 to Apr 2015 and down 7.3% for the following period May 2015 to Oct 2015 (a rather oddly symmetrical performance!)

Given the strength of the Sell in May effect it is not surprising that May itself is one of the weakest months of the year for shares. There are only three months where, since 1970, the market has an average return of below zero in the month – May is one of them (the others are June and September). On average the market falls -0.2% in the month, and the probability of a positive return in the month is below 50%. Since year 2000 performance has been even worse, with an average return of -0.6% for the month.

It’s not immediately obvious why May has been historically weak for the stock market. The month is weak for most stock markets worldwide, so whatever the reason it’s unlikely to be anything UK-specific, such as the timing of the UK’s financial year.

The average market in May

On average in May the market trades fairly flat for the first two weeks of the month, and then prices drift lower in the second half ending with the weakest day of the year for shares on 30 May (although the LSE will be closed this year on that day for Spring Bank Holiday).

May is the weakest month of the year for the FTSE 100 Index relative to the S&P 500 Index; on average the UK index under-performs the US by 1.9 percentage points in May.

Stocks

Over the last ten years, strong sectors relative to the general market in May tend to be Aerospace & Defense, Electricity and Food Producers; while the weaker sectors are: General Industrials and Life Insurance.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on the market in May.

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The Stock Market in April

April – one of the most exciting months for investors! Five years ago April was the strongest month for the stock market in the year, but it now ranks second behind December. The two months have been switching first and second places for quite a few years now. For the last few years it has been December, but April is not far behind. Interestingly, this characteristic is not unique to the UK market; a study of 70 markets worldwide found that the strongest months for shares were (in descending order) December, January and April.

Monthly returns of FTSE All Share Index - April (1984-2015)

On average the market rises 1.8% in this month; and the probability of a positive return in the month is 71%. Since 2003 the market has only fallen three times in April; although this doesn’t match the earlier performance: from 1971 the market rose in April every year for 15 years – a recent record for any month.

As can be seen in the chart, the strength of the market in April has been fairly constant since 1984 apart from in a few years.

The market often gets off to a strong start in the month – the first trading day of April is the second strongest first trading day of all months in the year. The market then tends to be fairly flat for the middle two weeks and then rising strongly in the final week.

FTSE 100 v S&P 500

This is the strongest month for the FTSE 100 relative to the S&P 500 (in sterling terms), the former out-performs the latter by an average of 1.3 percentage points in April (in 2015 the FTSE 100 out-performed the US index by 5.1 percentage points).

April also often sees strong performances by sterling against the dollar and oil.

The seasonality significance of April is that it the last month in the strong part of the six-month cycle (November-April), that is a feature of the Sell in May Effect (called the Halloween Effect in the US). Therefore investors may be reducing their exposure to equities ahead of May.

Diary

In the diary this month we have US Nonfarm payroll on the 1st, MPC interest rate announcement on the 6th, and the two-day FOMC meeting start on the 26th.

Anniversary-wise, 40 years ago this month in 1976 the first Apple computer, the Apple I, was released. In the same month James Callaghan was elected prime minister and long-end  gilt yields were 15%.


Article first appeared in Money Observer

Further articles on the market in April.

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