Does the market’s poor YTD performance prior to the six-month “Sell in May” combined with the Presidential Election Cycle help “inoculate” it against a typical mid-year, mid-term swoon? Yes, there’s some evidence to support that view—especially with Small Caps.
Next month kicks off the seasonally-weak phase of the stock market’s Annual Cycle: May-October. Overlaid on that is the statistically vulnerable stretch of the four-year Election Cycle: the “mid-point” of the Mid-Term Year. There’s a positive way to spin this mid-term malaise: The cycles imply that an ideal window for a major low is about to open.
In the March Green Book, we discussed the long history of stock market difficulties during mid-term election years. Incredibly, nine of the past 11 cyclical bear market lows have occurred in these years, with eight of those nine recorded during the seasonally-weak months of May through October (Table 1).
Our bearish stance could be tested by the arrival of the seasonally strongest six-month window of the four-year electoral cycle. Since 1926, November of the mid-term year through April of the pre-election year has produced an average un-annualized S&P 500 +16.4% total return.
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” might be a good motto for this never-ending bull market. The bull continues to shrug off the effects of both Quantitative Tightening and an escalating trade war, and it’s doing so during a seasonal stretch in which many of its predecessors have sunk to their knees (if not their demise).