As we near the end of the quarter I’ve begun to hear quite a bit about the “end-of-quarter markup” phenomenon. I’ve also received a few questions about it. The theory is that mutual funds and other large institutions tend to “mark up” the prices of securities at the end of each quarter so that their return numbers look better. I decided to take a look.
First I ran a test which showed the return of the S&P 500 on the last day of each quarter going back to 1960. Of the 186 quarter-ends over the period, 90 have had a positive last day of quarter, 94 finished negative, and 2 were basically dead even. The average win was 0.065%. The average loss was 0.06%. The net average day was 0.001%. Not even as good as an average day over the period.
I then checked to see what happened if the market sold off the few days leading up to the last day of the quarter (like now). For instance, 7 times the market sold off at least 2.5% in the last 3 days of the month. Five saw gains on the last day and two saw more losses. Unfortunately, the losses nearly eclipsed the gains. Lowering the requirement to a 1.5% selloff in the preceding 3 days gave 18 trades. 9 winners and 9 losers. Net expectancy was slightly negative.
I then looked at what happened if the S&P was down at least 3 days in a row just before the last day of the quarter. Twenty occurrences. 10 winners. 10 losers. Slight negative expectancy.
Looking at recent history rather than all the way back to 1960 did not help these studies.
No matter how I looked I was not able to find any evidence of an end of quarter mark-up in the index. Perhaps mark-ups occur in individual securities, but it’s not apparent in the general market.
Since I figured some people might be getting sick of looking at those “Myth Buster” guys, I posted some other Busters today…
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EOQ Markup – $12.00