Opinion: Why stocks could lose popularity as the market’s ‘presidential election cycle’ enters its second year

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Should investors be worried that the second year of the “presidential election cycle” is about to begin? Followers of the cycle answer “yes,” since second years of the cycle are the worst, on average, of a U.S. president’s four-year term.

Since the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.21%

was created in 1896, the Dow’s average price-only return in non-second years has been more than nine percentage points higher than in second years.

This result is not statistically significant, however. There is such wide variability in year-to-year performance that the averages don’t tell us much. In more than half of the presidential election cycle’s second years since the Dow’s creation, the U.S. benchmark index actually rose. Furthermore, as the accompanying chart shows, the Dow has risen in each of the past four second years — up 13.1% on average.

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