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Here’s what history says about stock market performance in December


US equities are wrapping up a strong November that saw stocks rebound off their 2022 lows set in October, with optimism bolstering that momentum will cement a year-end rally.

Indeed, much has been said about seasonal tailwinds and how they may or may not work to the benefit of stock market bulls next month. While historical data is only a rough guide, December’s record is impressive when it comes to winning percentage for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
the S&P 500 SPX,
and the small cap Russell 2000 RUT,
The Nasdaq Composites COMP,
December’s performance isn’t too bad either, as the chart below from Dow Jones Market Data illustrates.

Dow Jones Market Data

Of course, averages and other historical data are only a rough guide at best. Some investors may have bad memories of the 9.2% fall in the markets in December 2018.

With that caveat in mind, here is a broader breakdown of how the major indices tend to behave over the last month of the year.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 71% of the time; his highest winning percentage of any month

  • The Dow Jones average return in December is 1.4%, just behind July

  • The S&P 500 is up 73% of the time; his highest winning percentage of any month

  • Average December return for S&P 500 is 1.4%, 3rd best month on average

  • The Nasdaq Composite is up 61% of the time

  • Average December return for the Nasdaq Composite is 1.7%, 3rd best month on average

  • The Russell 2000 is up 83% of the time; his highest winning percentage of any month

  • The average return in December of the Russell 2000 is 2.8%; the best average return for any month

The chart below illustrates how December returns stack up historically:

Dow Jones Market Data

The Dow was on track for a 5.2% monthly gain in November, with the S&P 500 up 4.9% and the Nasdaq Composite up 3.8%.




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