It has been a rough start to the most wonderful month of them all, with the S&P 500 Index down each of the first two days of December. Don’t stop believing just yet, though.
Everyone knows December has usually been a good month for stocks, but what happened last year is still fresh in the minds of many investors. The S&P 500 fell 9.1% in December 2018 for the worst December since 1931. That sounds really bad, until you realize stocks fell 30% in September 1931, but we digress.
One major difference between now and last year is how well the global equities have been performing. Heading into December 2018, the S&P 500 was up 3.2% year to date, but markets outside of the United States were already firmly in the red, with many down double digits.
“We don’t think stocks are on the verge of another massive December sell off,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “If my Cincinnati Bengals can win a game, anything is possible. However, we are quite encouraged by the overall participation we are seeing from various global stock markets this year versus last year, when the United States was about the only market in the green heading into December.”
Stocks have also overcome volatile starts to December recently. The S&P 500 was down four days in a row to start 2013 and 2017, but the gauge still managed to gain 2.4% and 1%, respectively, in those years.
As the LPL Chart of the Day shows, December has been the second-best month of the year for stocks going back to 1950. It is worth noting that it was the best month of the year before last year’s massive drop. Stocks have historically been strong in pre-election years as well, and December has never been lower two times in a row during a pre-election year. Given stocks fell in December 2015, bulls could be smiling when this month is wrapped up.
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