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Excited About September? Don't Be

Thursday, 1 Sep 2011 | 12:27 PM ET

It was a rough August. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.56 percent. The S&P 500 sank 5.68 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 6.4 percent.

Excited for September? Don't be. According to the Stock Trader's Almanac, you should be worried.

During the last six decades, September has been the cruelest month of the year for the bulls. The Dow industrial average is down an average of 0.9 percent for the month since 1950. The worst September for the Dow industrials was 2002, with a loss of 12.4 percent.

Wall Street
Wall Street

That year, the U.S. was finalizing plans for an attack on Iraq and pushing the United Nations Security Council to enact tougher sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein. The saber rattling and war preparations pushed oil to $30 a barrel. Crude oil started the year at $19 a barrel range — that's almost a 50 percent spike over a short time period.

The best September for the Dow industrials was 1954. President Dwight Eisenhower was in office, and the Korean War was behind us. Americans were moving to the suburbs and buying cars, houses, refrigerators, grills, washers, and dryers.

However, in pre-election years, such as this one, the Dow industrial average is down only 0.6 percent in the average September.

September is also the worst month for the S&P and Nasdaq. The S&P is down 0.6 percent for the month since 1950. In pre-election years, it averages a 0.4 percent decline.

As for the Nasdaq, the average September since 1971 saw a 0.9 percent drop for the technology-heavy index. In pre-election years, the Nasdaq is fairly flat, down just 0.1 percent on average.

The worst year for the Nasdaq... 2001, when the index dropped 17 percent. No need to explain what happened in that terrible month of that difficult year.

The September for the Nasdaq was 1998. The index jumped 13 percent that month, as high-tech high flyers were blowing up the bubble. It was the heart of the go-go 1990s, but the party was over 18 months later, after the Nasdaq hit its peak in March of 2000 at 5,132.

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