“Sell in May and Go Away” – in 9 out of 11 Countries it Makes Sense to Do So

acting-man.com / Dimitri Speck / May 2, 2017

An Old Seasonal Truism

Most people are probably aware of the saying “sell in May and go away”. This popular seasonal Wall Street truism implies that the market’s performance is far worse in the six summer months than in the six winter months.

Numerous studies have been undertaken particularly with respect to US stock markets, which confirm the  relative weakness of the stock market in the summer months.

What is the status of the “sell in May” rule in other countries though? I have examined the patterns in the eleven most important stock markets in the world.

The Eleven Largest Markets in the World Under the Seasonal Microscope

I have taken a look at the popular benchmark stock indexes of the eleven countries with the largest market capitalization from 1970 onward, or starting from the earliest year as of which continuous price data are available.

The comparison divides the calendar year into a summer half-year from May to October and a winter half-year from November to April. The position is assumed to be closed out on the first trading day of the following month. In the respective half-year in which no position in stocks is taken, a cash position that earns no interest is assumed to be held, so as to avoid any distortions in the depiction of the stock market’s seasonal returns by including interest income.

This much I will say in advance: The results are clear, in all eleven countries the winter half-year outperformed the summer half-year significantly. In the majority of these eleven countries one would actually have lost money during the summer half-year on average! These countries are: