After a usually disappointing May and June, shares tend to perform a bit better in July, but not by much. July ranks 9th of all months for performance. On average the market increases 0.8% in July, with a probability of a positive return of 55%.
The accompanying chart plots the percentage performance of the FTSE All Share Index for each July since 1982. For example, last year in 2012 the market rose 1.2% in July. In the last 20 years the market has risen 11 times in July.
The market has risen on the first trading day of July 69% of years since 1984 – making it the strongest first trading day of any month. And the strength has tended to continue for the first week of trading (making it one of the 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.
Sectors and stocks
Although this may not be an exciting month for the overall market, there can be a fair degree of divergence of performance at the sector level. 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.
At the stock level, the following companies seem to like July: Experian, Greene King, Imagination Technologies, and Senior – these shares have risen in at least nine of the last ten years in July (Greene King is the only FTSE 350 stock whose shares have risen every July since 2003). While the two worst performing shares in July over the last ten years have been Petra Diamonds and Serco.
July has been the most active month for flotations; over 50 of the companies in the FTSE 350 Index have had their IPOs in this month. (Perhaps this is to allow company founders to go shopping for yachts in the summer months?) One such July IPO was for Antofagasta which floated on 5 July 1982; coincidentally, in recent years July has been the best month for the company’s shares. The longest-listed company with a July flotation date is one of the odder companies on the LSE – Law Debenture Corporation.
The date to watch this month is 4 July when the MPC interest rate announcement will be made, and the New York Stock Exchange will be closed (Independence Day).
Article first appeared in Money Observer.