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Back in April, we asked FundCalibre visitors if they would be following the St Leger’s Day adage to “sell in May and go away”. Just 7%² said that they would, which means 93% could be better off, as the FTSE All Share rose 9.92% between 1 May and 10 September¹– the day of the St Leger’s Day race.
The St Leger’s Day adage dates back to the time when stock market traders either spent the summer on holiday or attending social or sporting events like Wimbledon and Ascot. As a result of less trading, any sudden market sell-offs were amplified. Therefore, it was suggested, investors were better off selling their holdings in May and investing again on St Leger’s Day in September.
However, looking back over the past 35 years, this year’s positive returns are not unusual: the UK stock market has produced positive returns in 24 out of the past 37 years³ suggesting the adage, like the horses in the St Leger’s Day race, has run its course.
Investors in the top five performing Elite Rated UK equity funds would have fared better, had they held on to their investments.
And investors who held their money outside of the UK would have seen their returns enhanced further, perhaps proving that trying to time the market can be extremely costly.
¹Source FE Analytics, total returns for the FTSE All Share, 1 May 2016 to 10 September 2016.
²Based on feedback from 158 FundCalibre visitors from 1 April 2016 to 30 April 2016
³Source: Fidelity, total returns for the FTSE All Share between 1st May and 1st September each year since 1980.