Sell in May and Go Away!  Really?

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by Gavin in Blog
June 6, 2024 0 comments
sell in may


This financial saying “Sell in May and go away” is really really old.

It is not even clear when exactly this adage originated.

Further research indicates that the full saying goes like this:

“Sell in May and go away, don’t come back till St. Leger’s Day.”

What is St. Leger’s Day?

This dates back to a time when “St. Leger’s Day” is commonly known.

St. Leger’s Day refers to the day on which the St. Leger Stakes British horse race is held – often in mid-September.

The St. Leger Stakes is one of the five British Classic horse races.

It is the oldest of them, having been established in 1776.

The race is named after Anthony St. Leger, who founded it.

This saying originated when investors saw a seasonal decline in the UK stock market during the summer months.

This could be due to factors such as:

1. Many investors and traders take vacations during the summer months, leading to reduced trading volumes.

2. Agriculture cycles where farmers and others in agriculture-based economies would have less money to invest during the planting and growing season and would sell assets to cover expenses.

3. And corporate earning cycles where companies often have fiscal year-ends in December, meaning that earnings reports and financial activities are more concentrated around the beginning and end of the year, influencing stock prices more significantly in these periods.

Is It Still True Today?

As of this writing at the end of May 2024, the daily chart of SPX (S&P 500 index) shows:

sell in may

It certainly looks quite bullish.  Investors going away in May would have lost out.

If we were to take the full saying at face value, we really should be looking from May to September, since the saying says don’t come back till St. Leger’s day in mid-September.

Here is a look at the monthly chart with the May thru September trend highlighted…

sell in may

While not a scientific study by any measure, this quick glance at the chart suggests that the saying does not hold water.

The metaphor “does not hold water” is another interesting one which I will not get into.

It simply means “it does not seem to be reasonable or be in accordance with the facts.”

The markets have changed.

Financial markets have become more efficient due to increased access to information and advanced trading technologies.

Seasonal patterns, if they exist, are often quickly exploited by traders, reducing their effectiveness over time.

With the globalization of financial markets, local seasonal patterns may be less pronounced.

Market behavior can be influenced by global events, economic data, and geopolitical developments that do not adhere to a simple seasonal pattern.

The use of technology with a good portion of the financial markets being run by computers means that the market’s don’t take vacation, even though some individual traders may take holidays with their family during the summer.


While the saying “Sell in May and go away” may have interesting anecdotal historical reference, the validity of the pattern is often questioned.

It certainly does not hold consistently every year and should not be a basis of a reliable investment strategy on its own.

We hope you enjoyed this article about the Sell in May phenomenon.

If you have any questions, please send an email or leave a comment below.

Trade safe!

Disclaimer: The information above is for educational purposes only and should not be treated as investment advice. The strategy presented would not be suitable for investors who are not familiar with exchange traded options. Any readers interested in this strategy should do their own research and seek advice from a licensed financial adviser.


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