Better Not Sell, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

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With Christmas around the corner, it’s time to participate in the annual resurrection of the Santa Claus rally. First described by Yale Hirsch, creator of the Stock Trader’s Almanac, in 1972, the Santa Claus rally occurs during the last five trading days of the year and the first two trading days of the new year. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 1.5 percent during this period. Since 1896, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed an average of 1.7 percent during this seven-day trading period, climbing 77 percent of the time.

There are a couple of theories for why this time of year produces such a reliable mini-rally in equities. First and perhaps foremost is the idea that money managers tend do a little bit of tax-related dancing come the changing of the calendar, trying to lock in whatever tax advantages they can. Another theory is that people are wasting no time in investing their Christmas or New Year bonus, sending a fresh flush of money into the market all at once. A third, more nebulous theory is that investors simply feel a little better during the holidays and invest more bullishly than they may otherwise.

Whatever the reason, the Santa Claus rally has a grain of statistical truth to it: on average, investors can expect a little bump in the overall market. This year, though, the Santa Claus rally may be spoiled by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

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