Towards the end of the year the market always seems to be in a good mood, and this trend which has been branded the Santa Rally seems to be one of the markets most predictabletraits. Indeed, theres a surprising amount of evidence which supports the prediction that stocks will do well towards the end of the year. According to Hargreaves Lansdown, December has been the best month for stocks for the past three decades. The UK indexes, including the FTSE 100 have all posted a positive performancealmost nine times in ten. Since1984, the FTSE All-Share index has only fallen five times since December 1984.
However, while theres plenty of evidence to prove that the Santa Rally occurs almost every year, its not known what drives the rally. Some analysts have speculated that investors are overcome with Christmas spirit, and this good feeling helps push the market higher. Although, while Christmas cheer could be one driver behind the rally, its likely that much more tangiblefactors are at work here. For example, over the Christmas period, trading volumes fall as the City goes home for the holidays and thin trading could exacerbate market movements. But the real reason behind the Santa Rally could be quite simple: people expect it to happen. If investors are expecting a Santa Rally every year, and invest accordingly, this additionalbuying pressure will affect the market. Buying by investors ahead of a possible Santa Rally, coupled with thin trading volumes, could easily explain the Santa Rallyphenomenon.
Will theFTSE 100see the effects of a Santa Rally this year? Well, it would be silly to bet against a rally with so much evidence supporting thephenomenon but there are some factors that could dampen investors spirits this year. The European Central Bank has already poured cold water on investor optimism by not increasing its quantity easing program to the level expected by analysts and its widely expected that the US Federal Reserve will increase US interest rates later this month. Many analysts believe that an interest rate hike could send markets lurching lower. So its difficult to tell what the future holds for the FTSE 100, historic trends show that a Santa Rally is highly likely, although there are plenty of factors that could weigh on investor sentiment going forward.
In reality, its difficult to try and predict what the future holds for the FTSE 100. Even some of the worlds most prominent investors fail to identify correctly market trends and more often than not, trying to time market movements can end up costing you a lot of money. Thats why the most successful investors focus on the long-term performance of equities. They build a portfolio of stocks that have reliable long-term outlooks,illustrious histories, dependable dividends and hold for the long-term, buying and forgetting, watching their wealth steadily accumulate with minimal effort.
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