There’s an old saying you’ve probably heard that gets repeated every year in the spring and early summer that goes “sell in May and go away.” But is that good advice? What’s the best thing for you and your investments over the historically slower summer months?
The phrase “sell in May and go away” is thought to originate from an old English saying, “sell in May and go away, and come on back on St. Leger’s Day.” This phrase refers to a custom of upper class aristocrats, traders and financiers who would leave London to spend the summer months in the country. Specifically, it refers to the St. Leger’s Stakes, a thoroughbred horse race held in mid-September.
It turns out that the saying is based in solid analysis - From 1950 to around 2013, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had an average return of only 0.3% during the May to October period, compared with an average gain of 7.5 percent during the November to April period, according to Forbes.
But, since 2013 there’s good reason to believe that’s no longer the case. For example, the S&P 500 rose nearly 7% from the beginning of last May through the end of October, according to YCharts. The blue-chip index was up 5% during May through October of 2016 as well. The market did fall in the May-October period of 2015 because of concerns about China. But the S&P 500 enjoyed a 7% pop from May-October of 2014, a 10% gain in May-October of 2013 and even eked out a small gain in 2012’s May-October period as well.
What does this summer have in store? No one has a crystal ball. But, as you know, our goal is to set you up for long-term success.