Market Insider

'Sell in May and go away' might not work this year

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Stocks head into the last day of April in a cranky mood, but May might not be the time for a shakeout.

The old adage "sell in May and go away" seems like a good idea when looking at history, but some strategists see a few tailwinds that were not behind stocks last May when the S&P 500 hit its all-time high. This also does not mean the market will be spared a rocky time when it heads into June, when the Fed meets again and the U.K. votes on whether to leave the European Union.

"The market is right at the same level it was a year ago, but one difference was a handful of the larger stocks were holding up the market. This year it's practically the opposite," said Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke. "We're seeing strong breadth in the market. As long as that holds in there, it's a reason to hold in May, not sell in May." May has been the one of the weakest months with a basically flat performance on average. Over the last 20 years, the Dow was up an average 5 percent but finished lower half the time, according to Bespoke.