UK FTSE 350 sector indices returns 2017: Y, 2H, 4Q

The following charts plot the performance of UK sector indices in 2017 for the whole year, second half and fourth quarter.

2017 FY

Sector index returns for January – December 2017

UK sector indices - 2017 returns

The data for the chart is given in the following table.

Index Rtn(%)
Industrial Metals 71.3
Electronic & Electrical Equipment 34.0
Beverages 30.0
Mining 26.5
Software & Computer Services 26.4
Personal Goods 23.6
Industrial Engineering 21.8
Financial Services 19.1
Real Estate Investment & Services 18.5
Nonlife Insurance 17.1
Travel & Leisure 16.6
Household Goods & Home Construction 16.2
Forestry & Paper 15.9
General Industrials 15.5
Chemicals 15.0
Mobile Telecommunications 14.5
Equity Investment Instruments 14.1
Support Services 13.9
Life Insurance 13.3
Banks 11.6
Industrial Transportation 9.2
Real Estate Investment Trusts 8.7
Oil & Gas Producers 6.2
Food & Drug Retailers 5.8
Aerospace & Defense 5.3
Food Producers 3.4
Health Care Equipment & Services 3.4
Tobacco 3.2
General Retailers -1.8
Media -3.7
Automobiles & Parts -4.0
Construction & Materials -4.2
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology -4.7
Gas, Water & Multiutilities -14.5
Electricity -16.2
Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution -21.1
Fixed Line Telecommunications -24.9

2017 2H

Sector index returns for July – December 2017

UK sector indices - 2017 2H returns

2017 4Q

Sector index returns for October – December 2017

UK sector indices - 2017 4Q returns


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Sector performance 1Q

The following table lists all the FTSE 350 sector returns for the first quarter in the years 2008-2017.

The sectors are ranked by average returns in 1Q for the whole period 2008-2017. For example, Banks has been the worst performing sector in the first quarter with an average return of -3.5% in 1Q over the last ten years.

For each year the top (bottom) five sectors are highlighted in blue (red).

Sector returns 1Q [2008-2017] 02

A quick visual inspection shows that there is a certain clustering of blue highlighting at the top of the table and red at the bottom, which suggests that some sectors perform consistently well, or badly, in the first quarter.

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Construction sector 4-month strategy

An investing strategy that exploits a seasonality anomaly of the FTSE 350 construction sector.

The following two charts analyse the monthly seasonality of the FTSE 350 Construction & Material sector [NMX2350]. The charts plot the out-performance of the sector over the FTSE 100 Index.

The chart below plots the average out-performance for each month since 1999. For example, the construction sector has out-performed the FTSE 100 Index in January by any average 2.4 percentage points over the 18 years since 1999. The value for April is negative (-1.3), indicating that on average the construction sector has under-performed the market in that month.

Construction & Materials sector relative to FTSE 100 (average)[1999-2017]The following chart plots the proportion of years that have seen a positive out-performance by the construction sector in each month. For example, the sector has out-performed the market in January in 13 of the last 18 years (i.e. 72%).

Construction & Materials sector relative to FTSE 100 (positive)[1999-2017]

The characteristic that jumps out from this analysis is the relative strength of the construction sector in the four months: January, February, November and December.


The above analysis suggests a simple strategy (Construction Sector 4M Strategy) that invests in the Construction sector continuously in the four months from November through to February of the following year and is in cash for the rest of the year (i.e. the remaining eight months).

The following chart plots the value of this strategy if it had been set up in 1999 and run through to today. For comparison also plotted is the value of a buy-and-hold FTSE 100 portfolio (both series are re-based to start with values of 100).

Construction Sector 4M Strategy [1999-2017]

By mid-2017 the FTSE 100 portfolio would have had a value of 113, while the Construction Sector 4M Strategy portfolio would have a value of 625.

A good way to build value!

For reference, the seven stocks in the FTSE 350 Construction and Materials sector are:

  • Balfour Beatty [BBY]
  • CRH [CRH]
  • Ibstock IBST]
  • Kier Group [KIE]
  • Marshalls [MSLH]
  • Melrose Industries [MRO]
  • Polypipe Group [PLP]

Almanac cover - 2018 (small 2)

The above is an extract from the newly published UK Stock Market Almanac 2018.

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UK sector indices 2017 1Q

The following chart plots the performance of UK FTSE 350 sector indices for the first quarter 2017.

UK sector indices 2017 1Q returns

The data for the chart is given in the following table.

Sector TIDM Rtn(%)
Personal Goods 17.9
Forestry & Paper 15.7
Tobacco 13.1
Electronic & Electrical Equipment 12.5
Household Goods & Home Construction 10.1
Automobiles & Parts 9.5
Industrial Engineering 8.9
Beverages 8.9
Aerospace & Defense 6.6
Support Services 6.3
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology 6.1
General Industrials 5.7
Financial Services 5.5
Real Estate Investment & Services 5.4
Mining 5.2
Equity Investment Instruments 5.0
Industrial Metals 4.8
Mobile Telecommunications 4.7
Gas, Water & Multiutilities 4.2
Travel & Leisure 4.1
Chemicals 4.0
Nonlife Insurance 3.5
Life Insurance 2.8
Banks 2.1
Health Care Equipment & Services 1.1
Software & Computer Services 1.1
Construction & Materials 0.5
Real Estate Investment Trusts 0.2
Industrial Transportation 0.0
Media -0.1
Food Producers -1.3
Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution -1.8
General Retailers -2.9
Food & Drug Retailers -3.1
Electricity -5.7
Oil & Gas Producers -8.2
Fixed Line Telecommunications -12.2


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Sell in May Sector Strategy (SIMSS)

The Sell in May Effect describes the tendency of the market over the six-month period Nov-Apr to outperform the market in the other six-month period (i.e. May-Oct).

The effect can be seen in the following chart, which plots the cumulative average daily returns of the market (i.e. it gives a representation of the market moves in an average year). More information on this chart can be found here.

Santa Rally [2015] 04

As can be seen the market tends to be strong from November to April, and then flat for the six-month period May to October.

An update tracking the accuracy of this effect can be found here, and further articles here.

The problems of exploiting the Sell in May Effect

Although the effect is statistically significant, it is not an easy anomaly to exploit economically. In theory an investor might be long stocks Nov-Apr and then move to cash for May-Oct. But as can be seen in the above chart, the market doesn’t necessarily fall in the summer period (except possibly the short May-Jun period), rather it is flat. And by moving to cash the investor would forego dividends paid in the May-Oct period.

It may make sense moving to cash if interest rates were high (i.e. to benefit from high returns on cash for the summer period) – but that is not the case currently. And in any case that has to be balanced with the fact that when interest rates are high expected growth rates in equities tend to be high as well (i.e. not a time to be out of the market).

One significant reason why it may make sense to be out of the market over the summer period is that volatility is much higher then than in the Winter period (as shown here). For example, eight of the ten largest one day falls in the FTSE 100 Index happened in the Summer period. Hence, not only are returns lower in the Summer, but also risk-adjusted returns are significantly lower.

But generally, this is a little frustrating: the Sell in May Effect is a significant market anomaly, but tricky to exploit.

So, what to do?

Exploit the sector rotation

One idea is to stay in the market throughout the year but to re-balance a stock portfolio according to which sectors perform the best in the two six-month periods as defined by the Sell in May Effect.

The following two tables show the performance of the FTSE 350 sectors in the respective summer and winter periods since 1999. The tables have been ranked by average returns of the respective sectors over the 17-year period.

Sector performance in the summer period since 1999

SIM sector summer performance

 Sector performance in the winter period since 1999

SIM sector winter performance

From these tables two portfolios of sectors can be constructed that have historically performed strongly in the respective summer and winter periods.

A few filters were applied:

  1. Sectors with less than 4 component stocks were not considered
  2. Sectors must have a minimum 13-year track record
  3. Standard deviation (i.e. volatility) of a sector’s returns must be below the average standard deviation
  4. Positive returns must be over 50%

The portfolios selected were-

Summer Portfolio Winter Portfolio
Gas, Water & Multiutilities Construction & Materials
Beverages Industrial Engineering
Health Care Equipment & Services Chemicals

So, the Sell in May Sector Strategy (SIMSS) is

  • in the summer period: long sectors Gas, Water & Multiutilities, Beverages, and Health Care Equipment & Services
  • in the winter period: long sectors Construction & Materials, Industrial Engineering, and Chemicals

Performance of SIMSS

The following chart shows the simulated performance of the Sell in May Sector Strategy backdated to 1999 compared to the FTSE 100 Index.

SIMSS v FTSE 350 [1998-2016]

After 17 years the SIMSS portfolio would have grown in value to 1021 (from a starting value of 100). While the FTSE 100 (buy and hold) portfolio would have grown to 111.

This simulation does not include transaction costs, but as the strategy only trades twice a year these would not significantly change the above results.

More articles about the Sell in May Effect.

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Strong/weak sectors in February

Strong sectors

The table below lists the sectors that have historically out-performed the market in February.

Sector TIDM
Aerospace & Defense
General Industrials
General Retailers
Industrial Engineering
Oil & Gas Producers
Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution

Weak sectors

The following table lists the sectors that have been weak in February.

Sector TIDM
Electronic & Electrical Equipment
Financial Services
Fixed Line Telecommunications
Mobile Telecommunications
Technology Hardware & Equipment


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UK sector performance – 2015: Y, 2H, 4Q

The following charts plot the performance of UK FTSE 350 sector indices in 2015 for the whole year, second half and fourth quarter.

Full year

Sector returns for January – December 2015

UK sector indices 2015

Second half

Sector returns for July – December 2015

UK sector indices 2015 2H

Fourth quarter

Sector returns for October – December 2015

UK sector indices 2015 4Q


The above three time periods (1Y, 2H, 4Q) are consolidated into the one chart below.

FTSE 350 sectors in 2015 1Y  2H  4Q

The following table summarises the data for the chart.

Index TIDM 2015 4Q 2015 2H 2015 Y
Aerospace & Defense -1.4 -9.9 -12.9
Automobiles & Parts 15.1 -7.8 -10.4
Banks 0.2 -13.1 -12.7
Beverages 6.5 9.4 8.9
Chemicals 6.9 -2.2 -4.8
Construction & Materials 10.6 8.3 25.4
Electricity 2.0 -3.0 -10.2
Electronic & Electrical Equipment 7.7 -0.8 4.9
Equity Investment Instruments 6.3 0.0 3.0
Financial Services 6.6 1.1 10.8
Fixed Line Telecommunications 11.2 2.8 16.4
Food & Drug Retailers -11.0 -19.9 -11.7
Food Producers 3.8 16.7 8.8
Forestry & Paper -3.5 -2.7 27.1
Gas, Water & Multiutilities 0.9 5.1 -3.2
General Industrials 5.7 -0.7 12.9
General Retailers -2.6 -5.2 0.9
Health Care Equipment & Services 6.4 14.1 7.6
Household Goods & Home Construction 4.2 10.3 28.8
Industrial Engineering 1.7 -16.6 -19.1
Industrial Metals 0.5 -40.5 -52.6
Industrial Transportation -1.3 -15.2 -8.1
Life Insurance 9.2 0.6 3.7
Media 4.9 4.0 13.5
Mining -14.7 -41.8 -48.6
Mobile Telecommunications 6.7 -2.1 1.7
Nonlife Insurance 6.1 18.8 27.1
Oil & Gas Producers 1.6 -14.5 -20.6
Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution -16.0 -27.4 -20.9
Personal Goods 5.3 1.4 4.9
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology 8.0 5.4 1.4
Real Estate Investment & Services -2.2 -2.3 14.8
Real Estate Investment Trusts -3.2 2.2 6.6
Software & Computer Services 16.1 12.7 32.4
Support Services 5.7 -3.0 5.7
Technology Hardware & Equipment 9.1 1.9 7.1
Tobacco 4.0 12.5 13.3
Travel & Leisure 7.3 8.4 12.4
FTSE 350 3.2 -3.6 -2.8
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Quarterly sector momentum strategy (update)

Do FTSE 350 sectors display a quarterly momentum behaviour that can be exploited?

This analysis updates the performance of two strategies, defined as:

1. Strong quarterly sector momentum strategy (Strong QSMS)

The portfolio comprises just one FTSE 350 sector, that being the sector with the strongest performance in the previous quarter. So at the end of each quarter, the portfolio is liquidated and a 100% holding established in the strongest sector of the quarter just finished. This is held for three months, when the portfolio is liquidated and re-invested in the new sector. Therefore the strategy will trade four times a year.

2. Weak quarterly sector momentum strategy (Weak QSMS)

As above, but in this case it is the weakest sector of the previous quarter that is held by the portfolio. (Strictly, perhaps, this should be called a bounceback, or reversal, strategy and not a momentum strategy.)

Only FTSE 350 sectors with at least three component companies are considered. The period studied was from 2005 to the third quarter 2015.

The accompanying chart compares the performance of the two strategies, and adds the FTSE All Share Index as a benchmark. All series are re-based to start at 100.

Quarterly (strong and weak) sector momentum strategies [2005-2015]


  1. As can be seen, both the SMS strategies out-performed the index over the period of the study. However, they did so with greater volatility (the standard deviation of the Strong SMS quarterly returns was 0.11, against comparable figures of 0.13 for the Weak SMS and 0.07 for the FTSE All Share Index).
  2. From 2012 the reversal portfolio (Weak SMS) started strongly out-performing the Strong SMS.
  3. A refinement of the strategy would be to hold the two or three best/worst performing sectors from the previous quarter instead of just the one (which would likely have the effect of reducing volatility).
  4. Costs were not taken into account in the study. But given that the portfolio was only traded four times a year costs would not have had a significant impact on the overall performance.

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

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Strong/weak sectors in July

Strong sectors

The table below lists the sectors that have historically out-performed the market in July.

Sector TIDM
Personal Goods
Real Estate Investment Trusts
Technology Hardware & Equipment

Weak sectors

The table below lists the sectors that have historically under-performed the market in July.

Sector TIDM
Gas, Water & Multiutilities
Industrial Transportation
Support Services


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Strong/weak sectors in June

Strong sectors

The table below lists the sectors that have historically out-performed the market in June.

Sector TIDM
Oil & Gas Producers
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology

Weak sectors

There are no sectors that have been consistently weak in June.



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