When we pull back the curtain on the recent stock market action, it certainly appears that we have gone to extremes. Last week, the market fell 3.5% to 5.3% as the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all had their worst week since last November. The NASDAQ 100 has fallen for nine straight days.
If you are into investment newsletters like I am, you read a lot of them. Right now, almost every one of them is making mention of that yearly phenomenon summed up by a common Wall Street saying, “Sell in May and Go Away.”
The saying refers to the stock market’s habit of taking a summer swoon and a September plunge each year. It then recovers for its traditional year-end Santa Claus rally. And there is some truth in the saying.
Remember last year? The market peaked in late April and then didn’t return to rally mode until the leaves were falling in the fall. Market historians point to the pervasiveness of the market’s tendency to follow this pattern. Here’s the monthly history, and it’s true – the summer is not pretty when it comes to stock prices:
Over the last couple of days, the stock market suffered some serious damage to the momentum of the bull market rally that has been ongoing since last September. So far the harm has been mainly of the type that market technicians are concerned with – price patterns and moving average breaks.
As I write this, the lawn maintenance company is cutting the grass. Not a big deal if this was May or June, but here in Michigan in the first week of April, it is something beyond my 65 years of experience. (The first grass mowing always does bring back memories of another place and time when I used to mow the lawn myself, but usually had a helper. I know, I was quite a bit slimmer then – maybe it’s time to cancel that lawn service!)