March on Par


The end of February is nigh. This is a quick look at how the U.S. market has performed historically in March.

First the numbers…

From this 30,000 foot view, March has performed more or less on par with the average month over the last 80+ years.

But averages can be misleading because they say nothing about how consistent an observation has been or whether it’s waxing or waning, so below I’ve assumed a trader was only long the S&P 500 in March (red) versus the average month (grey) each year since 1930.

[logarithmically-scaled, growth of $10,000]

March has underperformed the average month just a smidge, but note the abysmal returns in the 1930’s (which probably aren’t so applicable to today’s market).

The second graph below zooms in on just 1939 onwards and shows that since then March has actually been an outperformer (by an equally small smidge).

[logarithmically-scaled, growth of $10,000]

Like all seasonality plays, this one has by no means been a sure thing and doesn’t by itself justify a trade, but statistically speaking I don’t see a case for March being particularly bullish or bearish, so I’m calling the calendar month bias as NEUTRAL.

See our monthly seasonality map for daily seasonality predictions in March.

Happy Trading,

Geek note: returns are dividend-adjusted (interpolated from quarterly data).

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