When Do Markets Get Volatile?

After the S&P 500 Index’s least volatile third quarter since 1963, October has ushered in a wave of volatility: Daily moves in excess of 1% now feel like the norm.

Here’s what you need to know about volatility: It tends to happen when the S&P 500 is in a downtrend and beneath the 200-day moving average. For example, the S&P 500 gained more than 7.0% in the third quarter and did not gain more than 1% in a single day. In contrast, the S&P 500 has gained more than 1% three times already this month, but it is still down 7.2% so far in October.

The 200-day moving average is simply the average close of the previous 200-day trading days. This is a long-term trendline that many investors use to determine if stocks are in an uptrend or downtrend, but history has shown that the most volatility tends to happen beneath this trendline.

“Big moves tend to happen beneath the 200-day moving average,” said LPL Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “In fact, 23 of the 25 largest one-day rallies for the S&P 500 took place beneath the 200-day moving average.”

As our LPL Chart of the Day shows, the majority of the largest gains and losses took place beneath the 200-day moving average. With the S&P 500 currently beneath this important trendline, more volatility could be in store for investors.

The Largest Daily Changes Tend to Happen Beneath the 200-Day Moving Average

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