NEW YORK (Reuters) - “Sell in May and go away,” arguably the most well-worn axiom on Wall Street, has proven to be shrewd advice during previous midterm election years.
Though the exact origins of the phrase are a bit murky, up until recently, stocks had underperformed in the six-month period starting in May, which coincides with vacation for many traders between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.
But this year, investors may be better served by eschewing the adage as stocks look positioned to buck that trend, with corporate profits coming off a banner quarter and as the U.S. economy continues to gain traction.
According to the Stock Trader's Almanac, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI has lost 64.71 points from May through October since 1950 versus a gain of 20,790.89 for the November through April months. Over the same time frame, the S&P .SPX has gained 264.31 points during the May-October period, compared with a gain of 2,420.72 points during the other six months.
While stocks have risen in the November through April period, volatility has also increased. After hitting a record high on Jan. 26, the S&P dropped more than 10 percent to bottom out on Feb. 8 at 2,581 and tested the low again in late March. The index now sits about 5.5 percent below the January high.
“I don’t think it is going to work this year,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston.
“The economy is strong, earnings are good, the market has already sold off a little bit.”
This year, May