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Calendar Effects

The time of year affects human activities and moods, both through natural variations in the environment and through artificial customs and laws. Do such calendar effects systematically and significantly influence investor/trader attention and mood, and thereby equity prices? These blog entries relate to calendar effects in the stock market.

Trading Around Option Expiration Days

Are there any stock market return/volatility anomalies around the equity option expiration (OE) day (third Friday of each month)? Potential anomalies include: (1) systematic differences in returns and volatilities before, on and after OE; and, (2) systematic differences in OE returns conditional on prior-month returns. To investigate, we examine close-to-close returns from five trading days before through five trading days after OE. Using daily closing prices for the S&P 500 Index for January 1990 through December 2013 (287 OEs, with September 2001 excluded due to trading disruption) and for the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) during January 2009 through December 2013 (59 OEs), we find that: Keep Reading

January Effect Over the Long Run

Does long term data support belief in the January effect, exceptionally strong performance by the U.S. stock market during the month of January? Robert Shiller’s long run sample, which calculates monthly levels of the S&P Composite Stock Index since 1871 as average daily closes during calendar months, offers data for testing. Using monthly levels of the S&P Composite Stock Index for January 1871 through December 2013 (143 years), monthly closes of the S&P 500 Index for January 1950 through December 2013 (64 years), we find that: Keep Reading

Testing Earnings Season (Alcoa to Wal-Mart) Trading Strategies

Five years ago, a reader noted and asked: “CNBC’s Fast Money cited a ‘seasonal’ strategy described in Barron’s, as follows: Go long the market from Wal-Mart’s (WMT) earnings release until Alcoa’s (AA) earnings release and short the market from Alcoa’s earnings release until Wal-Mart’s earnings release (earnings season). Over the last six years, the market has been up nicely during the former period and down an average 8% during the latter. Any testing on this?” To test this strategy, we assemble AA earnings release dates and WMT earnings release dates since the beginning of 1997 (the earliest available for AA), estimating the date for one missing WMT release. This sample period is much longer than that cited. Using these earnings release dates, daily dividend-adjusted closes for S&P 500 SPDR (SPY) and ProShares Short S&P500 (SH) and the daily 13-week Treasury bill (T-bill) yields over the period 2/25/97 (6/21/06 for SH) through 10/8/13 (67 quarters), we find that: Keep Reading

Halloween Indicator Out-of-sample Test

Does the Halloween effect (sell in May) still hold? In the June 2013 version of their paper entitled “Are Stock Markets Really so Inefficient? The Case of the ‘Halloween Indicator'”, Hubert Dichtl and Wolfgang Drobetz investigate whether true out-of-sample results confirm that the Halloween effect persists for five total return indexes: S&P 500, DAX 30, FTSE 100, CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50. They consider both regression tests to compare average monthly returns and simulated trading strategies based on bootstrapping. They consider three sample periods for each index: (1) the total available sample period; (2) the subperiod since availability of a liquid investment proxy (such as a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund) to exploit the Halloween effect; and, (3) the subperiod starting January 2003 (after publication of the seminal international study of the effect). For simulated trading strategies, they assume switches from stocks to cash at the end of April and cash to stocks at the end of October incur trading friction of 0.5%. Using monthly total returns of the specified indexes as available (starting years ranging from 1965 to 1988) through December 2012, and contemporaneous one-month local interest rates as the return on cash, they find that: Keep Reading

Stock Market Performance by Month Worldwide

Are there worldwide anomalies with regard to equity market returns by calendar month? In his June 2013 paper entitled “Stock Market Performance: High and Low Months”, Vichet Sum examines stock market performance in 70 countries to determine which months generate relatively high and low returns. He weights country stock markets equally in calculating worldwide statistics. Using monthly returns as available (with many series beginning in the 1980s and 1990s) mostly through May 2012, he finds that: Keep Reading

Test of Seasonal Risk Adjustment Strategy

A subscriber requested review of a strategy that seeks to exploit “Sell in May” (the “Halloween Effect”) by switching between risk-on assets during November-April and risk-off assets during May-October. The risk-on assets are SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM) and PowerShares DWA Technical Leaders (PDP). Risk-off assets are iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treas Bond (TLT) and PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility (SPLV). At each portfolio switch date, specified assets receive equal weight. Using April and October dividend-adjusted closes of SPY, IWM, PDP, TLT and SPLV as available during October 2002 (the first interval for which at least one risk-on and one risk-off asset are available) through October 2012, plus the February 2013 close as an endpoint for a partial interval, we find that: Keep Reading

Halloween Effect Pervasiveness

Is the outperformance of stocks during November-April compared to May-October pervasive worldwide and over time? In their October 2012 paper entitled “The Halloween Effect: Everywhere and All the Time”, Ben Jacobsen and Cherry Zhang test the “Halloween” or “Sell-in-May” effect for all stock markets worldwide using the full histories of indexes available for these markets (excluding dividends). Using 55,425 monthly observations for 108 stock market indexes (24 developed, 21 emerging, 31 frontier and 32 rarely studied) during 1693 through 2011 (319 years), they find that: Keep Reading

Distinctive Biotech Seasonality?

In an August 2004 article entitled “Time is Right for These 7 Biotechs” (apparently no longer available on MSN Money), Jim Jubak states: “…in most years, biotechs decline in the spring as investors anticipate a summer hiatus in the conferences where new clinical results are announced. They rally in the fall as the conference schedule and the volume of news increases.” Does empirical data support belief in these observations? To check, we examine the behavior of the AMEX Biotechnology Index (BTK) across the calendar year. Using monthly closing levels for BTK from its inception in January 1995 through August 2012 (over 17 years), and contemporaneous monthly returns for the S&P 500 Index for detrending, we find that: Keep Reading

TOTM Interaction with National Elections

A subscriber asked how distinct the U.S. election rally (last chart in “Stock Market and the National Election Cycle”) is from the turn-of-the-month effect for October and November (fourth chart in “Turn-of-the-Month Effect Persistence and Robustness”). To investigate, we compare turn-of-the-month (TOTM) returns by calendar month for even (national election) years, odd years and presidential election years. Consistent with prior analyses, we define TOTM as the interval from the close five trading days before to the close four trading days after the last trading day of the month (a total of eight trading days, centered on the monthly close). Using daily closes for the S&P 500 Index during February 1950 through August 2012 (62.5 years), we find that: Keep Reading

Combine Long-term SMA, TOTM and Sector Momentum?

Based on results from “Simple Sector ETF Momentum Strategy Performance”, “Does the Turn-of-the-Month Effect Work for Sectors?” and “Long-term SMA and TOTM Combination Strategy”, a subscriber proposed: “Have you ever thought of combining the three? When SPY is above a long term average, buy the best performing sector ETF using the TOTM strategy.” To investigate, we consider the nine sector exchange-traded funds (ETF) defined by the Select Sector Standard & Poor’s Depository Receipts (SPDR), all of which have trading data back to December 1998:

Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB)
Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE)
Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF)
Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI)
Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK)
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP)
Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU)
Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV)
Consumer Discretionary Select SPDR (XLY)

We determine sector momentum based on total return over the past six months (6-1). We define bull-bear stock market state according to whether SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) is above-below its 200-day simple moving average (SMA). We define the turn-of-the-month (TOTM) as the eight-trading day interval from the close five trading days before the first trading day of a month to the close on the fourth trading day of the month. Using daily dividend-adjusted closes for the sector ETFs and SPY from 12/22/98 through 8/10/12 (164 months), we find that: Keep Reading

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