Are investor fears justified? Maybe.
New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection
By Chris Morris
July 13, 2018

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, say the superstitious. It’s right up there with a black cat crossing your path or breaking a mirror. And, with the possible exception of sports fans, it’s hard to find a more superstitious lot than investors.

There’s anxiety on Wall Street when the calendar falls on this day. But is it justified? As it turns out, it’s not entirely unreasonable.

Market conditions vary from day to day, and ultimately that’s what decides the fate of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But a look at 20 years of final trading results on Friday the 13th shows the market ended the day lower 18 times out of 35, slightly more than 50% of the time.

And if you’re especially prone to thinking the worst, we’re on a bad streak. Every Friday the 13th since March 13, 2015, the market has ended the day lower.

The good news, though, is that the market typically hasn’t moved a lot in either direction on Friday the 13th. It gained 203 points in July 2012 and lost 223 this past April, but most other moves have been fairly calm.

Here’s a look at how stocks have fared on Friday the 13ths over the past 20 years.

2/13/1998: +31.4

3/13/1998: -57.04

11/13/1998: +88.98

8/13/1999: +186.95

10/13/2000: +160.56

4/13/2001: Market Closed for Good Friday

7/13/2001: +60.67

9/13/2002: -64.99

12/13/2002: -102.36

6/13/2003: -80.76

2/13/2004: -68.37

8/13/2004: +11.24

5/13/2005: -48.11

1/13/2006: -1.61

10/13/2006: +13.29

4/13/2007: +60.22

7/13/2007: +47.39

6/13/2008: +162.76

2/13/2009: -82.59

3/13/2009: +56.63

11/13/2009: +72.62

8/13/2010: -17.18

5/13/2011: -99.9

1/13/2012: -49.9

4/13/2012: -136.61

7/13/2012: +203.36

9/13/2013: +63.2

12/13/2013: +9.7

6/13/2014: +41.1

2/13/2015: +50.7

3/13/2015: -139.74

11/13/2015: -194.01

5/13/2016: -175.8

1/13/2017: -26.81

10/13/2017: -4.71

4/13/2018: -222.68

Ironically, investor superstition around Friday the 13th was a plot of a 1907 book. Thomas Lawson’s Friday the Thirteenth saw a broker trying to create a Wall Street panic on the day.

As for today, there’s plenty of time left in the trading day, but as of mid-morning, the Dow was up 50 points after big banks posted mixed earnings.

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