The recent uptick in stock volatility has some investors on edge (OK, it is mostly just financial news editors on edge). The truth is, while volatility over the past week has seen an increase, it is not all that far away from the historical norm. Last Thursday through Monday, for example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) experienced 3 straight “volatile” days, with daily ranges of between 1% and 1.6% on all 3 days. Looking historically, however, we find that the average daily range in the DJIA over the last 90 years is 1.6%. Even during the current bull market since 2009, the average range is 1.08%. Thus, the recent action should hardly be characterized as volatile.
The reason it perhaps seems so tumultuous is because we are emerging from a long stretch of calm in the market – record calm, at that. Prior to Thursday, the DJIA had gone 72 days without experiencing a daily range as wide as 1%. If that sounds like a long stretch, it’s because it is a record. In fact, the record prior to this recent streak was just 49 days in a run that ended in late February of this year. And prior to 2016, the record going back to 1928, according to our database, was a mere 32-day streak back in 1944 – less than half the recent streak.
Furthermore, historically, there have been just 16 streaks that have lasted as long as 21 days, i.e., 1 month.
Interestingly, this recent streak is the first of any of the 16 that saw 3 straight 1% daily ranges immediately following its culmination. So is mean-reversion starting to rear its volatile head here following the record calm? And is there a nefarious message to the sudden uptick in volatility? In a Premium Post at The Lyons Share, we take a deeper dive into prior streaks of calm in search of clues that may help shape our expectations for our present case.
The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) was unchanged in premarket trading Thursday. Year-to-date, DIA has gained 24.16%, versus a 18.85% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
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Disclaimer: JLFMI’s actual investment decisions are based on our proprietary models. The conclusions based on the study in this letter may or may not be consistent with JLFMI’s actual investment posture at any given time. Additionally, the commentary provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a recommendation to invest in any specific securities or according to any specific methodologies. Proper due diligence should be performed before investing in any investment vehicle. There is a risk of loss involved in all investments.
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