Wednesday, September 30, 2015


When the chart after the second graf makes clear that the hed is flat wrong, you can conclude that someone failed to RTFS, or Read The Story:

September has been tough for stock investors. But if history is any guide, the last day of September may deliver one more blow to already battered markets, according to the financial blog Bespoke.

Looking at data as far as 1945, the S&P 500 has posted positive returns just 38% on the last day of September, making it one of the worst trading days of the year, according to Bespoke (as the included table illustrates).

By one of these two metrics, Sept. 30 is apparently tied for fifth on that coveted list of trading days least likely to see a positive closing for the S&P 500 -- neither "investors" nor "the worst" nor empire. (While Feb. 21 has produced a positive close less often, its overall loss is a little over half the size of the one that set headlines ablare at MarketWatch; which day should we consider worse for "investors"?)

The larger question is the KTFS one: Would you buy a used investment analysis (or advertising space at a site that offers investment analysis) from a place that apparently thinks past performance really does guarantee future results?

... If Wednesdays trading action follows the historical trend, things could get worse for investors before they get better. 

Or not. At this writing,* the S&P 500 is up 1.71% for the day; a few minutes ago, it was down 2.8%. Oops! Now it's plummeted to +1.68%. (The Dow industrials and the Nasdaq, both positive, seem unperturbed by the omens. Or not.) Those friendly games of chance at the county fair were made for advice like this. (Stop press! +1.73%!)

This tale came to the non-MarketWatch world's attention (at least, my attention) through the Drudge Report, where fictional heds about bogus correlations are the house special:

For Drudge, any story that sends the peasants out in search of gold and freeze-dried food is a good story. Outfits that don't want to be mistaken for that (+1.89%) might want to reconsider their approach to the art of the headline:
And with that, the S&P appears to have closed up nearly 2 points, which has as much to do with its historic performance on Sept. 30 as any other result would have.

* 3:40 p.m. EDT, if you're scoring along at home.

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