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Santoli: Don't pretend calendar offers any clarity

Wall Street NYSE
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

History is imploring investors to worry right now. This is the point in the year and the moment in the political cycle when markets have met trouble, we are told by the archivists of financial patterns.

But it probably makes sense to listen to these grim tidings with only one ear, treating them like the boilerplate warnings of pharmaceutical ads rather than a firm and scary diagnosis.

The annual "sell in May" chatter has become a cacophony of crude statistical argument countered by heavy-handed admonitions against timing the market, yielding far more noise than signal.

Yes, most historical market gains have accrued from Halloween through April, and sitting out the summer and early fall meant sidestepping a number of nasty market air pockets.

But the past six months didn't give us the promised juicy return, with the Standard & Poor's 500 down slightly since Oct. 31 after sustaining an ugly 12 percent sell-off into February. So should the tide go out now, when it never came in?