Weak market period shows its strength - East Valley Tribune: Business

Weak market period shows its strength

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Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2003 2:59 am | Updated: 1:17 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

NEW YORK - If you sold in May and walked away, as they say on Wall Street, you might have lost some big money along the way.

Historically, May has been the start to the worst six months of the year for the stock market. But that’s not true this time around, with returns so far being downright good, stunning even.

Of course, September isn’t over yet and there could be a wave of selling as investors try to lock in some gains as the quarter winds down.

And still to come is October, known as the jinx month for its market crashes and steep price plunges. No one wants that history to repeat itself.

After three years of crippling declines, the market turned its course in mid-March. Much of the rally since has been built on expectations that the economy is finally rebounding.

The good news is that the gains didn’t evaporate from May through the slow summer months, fueling all sorts of talk on Wall Street that the bull market is really back.

‘‘In the first year of a bull market, all bets are off. Months that typically do poorly often end up doing quite well,’’ said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at Standard & Poor’s.

That’s certainly what is happening in the market. Since April 30, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index have climbed 11 percent.

Contrast that with the average returns from May to October since 1950 — 0.1 percent for the Dow, 1.1 percent for the S&P, as tallied by the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

Still, this market isn’t without worry. Marketwatchers warn that some pullback is to be expected given how far the market has come this year.

‘‘Bull markets aren’t wrinkle-free. There will be corrections along the way,’’ wrote Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp. in a recent note to clients. "A 5 percent to 10 percent correction in stock prices . . . would not be a surprise."

The more bearish side says the fall could be steeper than that because investors have been pouring money right back into the same speculative sectors.

If the market can hold on, Wall Street’s bulls say that will give more evidence that the bear has lost its grip.

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