The seemingly unrelenting climb of US equities has stopped in August. Market volatility spiked, the decline of the US dollar ended, bond spreads widened, and macro risk-indicators surged. While there has been no major correction (yet), the fresh breeze of optimism that characterized equity markets in the first half of the year gave space to the somewhat stale atmosphere that typically takes over when the majority of investors switch into risk-off mode.
From a technical point of view, the concept of a “year-end rally” is a myth. At least, this is what empirical evidence is telling us. In the past 10 years, the S&P 500, for example, posted a December performance, on average, of 1.12%, making December only the 5th-best month of the year (Fig.1). Over the entire period – from 2006 to 2015 – there was not a single year, in which December was the best performing month.