Rocky White, senior quantitative analyst for Schaeffer's Investment Research, offers a technical look at what investors can expect for the last few weeks of 2021 — plus the 25 best stocks during the second half of December.
The table below summarizes monthly returns for the S&P 500 Index (SPX) going back to 1950. From the looks of it, December has been a bullish month, historically. It has been positive more often than any other month and ranks third in average returns behind November and April. Breaking down the month into halves also reveals that it’s not too late for investors to take advantage of the bullish seasonality.
Monthly Returns Broken Down Further
The table below breaks down the months into halves. Note that the table is sorted by the average return, instead of chronologically like the one above. The first half of December is near the bottom of the table, averaging a return that’s barely positive. The second half of December is ranked first in both average return and percent positive.
The second half of the month, however, is the best when measured by average return and percent positive — and it’s not close. From the 15th through the end of the year, December has averaged a 1.44% return with 79% of the returns positive. The next best half month by those metrics is the first half April, averaging a gain of 1.04% with 68% of the returns positive.
Up Big Year-to-Date
The S&P 500 is up big already this year, nearly 25%. Is there any buying power left for the final two weeks? Based on historical returns since 1950, there could still be plenty of buying power. The table below breaks down the second half of December based on the year-to-date returns through the first half of the month.
The last half of the month has been bullish no matter what happened during the previous 11 and a half months. The index performed the best after it had already gained over 20% for the year. In those cases, it averaged a gain of 1.79%, with 85% of the returns positive.
Best & Worst S&P 500 Stocks
The table below shows the best S&P 500 stocks over the last half month of the year. I sorted this list first by the percentage of time the stock beat the S&P 500, then by percent positive and then by average return. Only one stock, Union Pacific (UNP), beat the S&P 500 Index every single year for each of the last 10 years.
Naturally, here’s a table showing the worst stocks to have owned over the last half of December, over the past 10 years. Despite the bullish overall market, these stocks have struggled during the holidays.