Say whatever you will about the kookiness of following stock market cycles. Although seasons and cycles can’t perfectly predict the market’s next move, certain historical patterns have shown a scary propensity to repeat.
For example, analyzing the quarterly performance of stocks reveals several intriguing historical trends. Among these is the fact that fourth-quarter equity returns have been consistently positive.
Going back to 1949, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 have recorded positive gains in every fourth quarter during presidential post- and pre-election years along with mid-term and election years. During pre-election years like 2015, fourth-quarter stock market gains have averaged 2.3 percent for the Dow and 3 percent for the S&P 500 over the past 65 years, according to the Stock Market Almanac.
Although the Nasdaq Composite’s historical return only goes back to 1971, it too has consistently gained during the fourth quarter, averaging a 5.1 percent positive return.
This year, bullish seasonal factors are aligning with fundamentals, and increased mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the U.S. has lifted stock prices.