The December Low Indicator Has Bulls Smiling

After the best first quarter for the S&P 500 Index since 1998, the big question is: What happens next? We’ve already discussed why a good start to a year could lead to more gains (here and here), but today we will take a look at another potentially positive signal.

The December Low Indicator was created in the 1970s by Lucien Hooper, a former Forbes columnist and Wall Street analyst. Simply put, the indicator says that if the S&P 500 closes beneath the December low during the first quarter, it’s a warning sign for potential weakness over the balance of the year. The flipside is if it doesn’t, good times could be coming. Given the S&P 500 just went all of the first quarter without closing beneath the December 24 low, it’s worth taking a deeper dive.

Sure enough, there appears to be some truth to this concept. “The December low indicator seems quite simple, but it has a tremendous track record,” explained LPL Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “When the S&P 500 stays above the December lows throughout the first quarter, the full year has been higher an incredible 34 out of the last 34 times, which bodes well for 2019.” In fact, this warning even worked last year, as it triggered in the first quarter of 2018 and eventually played out during the big fourth quarter sell-off.

As our LPL Chart of the Day shows, when the S&P 500 stays above the December lows in the first quarter, the full year does quite well.

S&P500 Index Yearly Returns based on the December Low Indicator (1950-2018)

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