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Irish Eyes Smile on Market Last 23 Years, but S&L Crisis Blackens St Patrick’s Day Fridays

Saint Patrick’s Day is the only cultural event that perennially lands in March. Over the years gains the day before Saint Patrick’s Day have proved to be slightly better than the day itself and the day after. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of the patron saint’s holiday that boosts the market and the distraction from the parade down Fifth Avenue that causes equity markets to languish. Perchance it’s the all the green folks don that stirs up thoughts of money and market gains. More likely, it’s the fact that Saint Pat’s usually falls in historically bullish Triple-Witching Week.

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Whatever the case, since 1950, the S&P 500 posts an average gain of 0.22% on Saint Patrick’s Day (or the next trading day when it falls on a weekend), a gain of 0.14% the day after and the day before averages a 0.25% advance. S&P 500 median values are 0.18% on the day before, 0.23% on Saint Patrick’s Day and 0.07% on the day after.

In the nine years when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday – also Triple Witching Day – like this year, since 1950, the day before (Thursday) produced an average gain of 1.01%; while Friday advanced a paltry average 0.01% and the following Monday suffered an average loss of -0.06%. The 1989 Savings and Loan Crisis impacts Friday Saint Patrick’s Day heavily with Seaman’s Corporation, parent of Seaman’s Bank for Savings of New York, announcing an agreement with the Feds that would prohibit it from paying dividends on common stock shares, knocking the stock down 45% on the day. On the same day the Feds also seized 6 S&Ls in South FLA. S&P 500 was down 2.25% March 17 1989 and 0.95 the following Monday.

However, over the last 23 years market performance on Saint Patrick’s Day and the day after have improved, up 78% of the time on the Holiday with an average gain of 0.69%. Since there is no major financial crisis afoot and March Triple Witching has been more bullish recently, the odds are for market upside tomorrow.