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Monday
Nov192012

S&P 500 Average Thanksgiving Returns

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we wanted to highlight the historical returns of the S&P 500 in the days surrounding the holiday over the last 50 years.  The table below shows the average and median returns of the S&P 500 on the day before, day after, and Monday after Thanksgiving over the last fifty and ten years.  For the purposes of space, we have only included the individual returns for the last ten years (click here for a complete list).

Regardless of the timeframe you analyze, the day before Thanksgiving has traditionally been a positive one for equities.  Over the last 50 years, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 0.31% (median = 0.36%) with positive returns 78% of the time.  Over the last ten years, the average return has been even stronger at 0.59% (median = 0.42%) with positive returns 80% of the time.  

While the day before Thanksgiving has historically been positive, the day after Thanksgiving has been mixed.  Over the last 50 years, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 0.31% (median (0.26%) with positive returns 72% of the time.  Over the last ten years, though, the S&P 500 has averaged a decline of 0.05% (median = -0.15%) with positive returns just 40% of the time.

There is nothing mixed about the S&P 500's performance on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Over the last 50 years, the S&P 500 has averaged a decline of 0.36% (median = -0.21%) with positive returns just 40% of the time.  Over the last ten years, the Monday after Thanksgiving has been even worse as the S&P 500 has averaged a decline of 0.97% (median = -0.27%) with positive returns just 30% of the time.  We would note that the average return is a bit skewed by the 8.93% decline the S&P 500 saw on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2008 (there wasn't much to be thankful for in 2008), but even still, on the Monday after Thanksgiving the S&P 500 falls more often than it rises.

Finally, while seasonal patterns can provide a guide as to how the market performs before and after Thanksgiving, there are always exceptions.  Last year provides a perfect example.  On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the S&P 500 fell 2.21%, only to rise 2.92% on the following Monday!

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