Market strategists and the media enjoy talking about calendar-based indicators of the stock market when they come around.
Think the ‘Santa Claus rally’, the ‘January effect’, ‘sell in May and go away’, and so on.
Well, here’s another one: sell on Rosh Hashanah and buy on Yom Kippur.
Rosh Hashanah – the start of the Jewish new year – started on Sunday. Coupled with holidays in Germany and in Asia, traders anticipate a quiet start to the trading week, according to Dave Lutz, head of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) at JonesTrading
Lutz sent the chart below to clients on Monday with the following commentary on why Rosh Hashanah has historically been seen as a time to sell (his emphasis):
One saying for equities on Wall Street has historically been to “sell Rosh Hashanah (red), buy Yom Kippur (Black). Sometimes even a “sell Passover” gets added to the mix. As the Jewish High Holidays are set to start, the mantra is derived from the fact that with “many traders and investors busy with religious observance and family, positions are closed out and volume fades creating a buying vacuum.”
The chart shows that most of the time, stocks fall between both holidays, and so a trader who sold on Rosh Hashanah would have made the right move.
But as a cautious reminder, the stock market’s past performance does not dictate how it will trade in the future.
This year, we’ve already seen that catchy mantras don’t always play out as expected. For example, people who adhered to ‘sell in May and go away’ didn’t foresee the index’s 1.5% gain that month and its 4% rise since then – unless they’re betting a correction is coming soon.
Or better still, the bullish “January effect” was nowhere to be found in 2016 as the market suffered its worst start to a year ever.