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Holiday Spirit Usually Buoys Thanksgiving Trading

Trading around Thanksgiving has a bullish tendency perhaps buoyed by the “holiday spirit.” First published in the 1987 Stock Trader’s Almanac, the Wednesday before and the Friday after Thanksgiving combined were up 34 times in 35 years. The only S&P 500 decline was in 1964.

Subsequently, this trend changed. In the 34 years since 1987, there have been 9 declines and 25 advances. The best short-term trade appears to be getting long into any weakness during the beginning of Thanksgiving week and selling into any subsequent rally by the end of Thanksgiving week. But as COVID-19 cases are on the rise again remain nimble as exogenous events like Greece’s debt crisis in 2011 or 2018’s fourth quarter rout can cancel Thanksgiving on Wall Street.

Also of note is the change in the yearend rally. Prior to 1987, from the close of trading on the Friday after Thanksgiving to yearend, the S&P 500 rallied only 20 times in 35 years. As Thanksgiving bullishness lost steam in 1987, the rally afterwards occurred more frequently. Since 1987, S&P 500 has logged gains in 26 of 34 years from the close on Friday after Thanksgiving to yearend.

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