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Kensho Stats

Here's how to trade Friday's big GDP report, based on history

A cargo ship is loaded with shipping containers at the Port of Long Beach, Calif.
Harriet Taylor | CNBC
A cargo ship is loaded with shipping containers at the Port of Long Beach, Calif.

We'll get the first reading for fourth-quarter GDP Friday and economists expect growth to come in at 2.2 percent, according to the consensus estimate from FactSet.

If the figure comes in hotter than that, highly cyclical stocks like materials and technology should beat the market in the five days following the report, if history is any guide.

Using hedge fund analytics tool Kensho, we found which market sectors and Dow Jones industrial average stocks performed the best a week after the GDP report beat the consensus estimate by 1 standard deviation. We also ran a search on which parts of the market do best when the GDP report misses by 1 standard deviation.

There have been 16 occasions in the last decade when the GDP report beat by 1 standard deviation. Here were the top performing S&P 500 sectors, on average, five days after the better-than-expected report:



Here are the best performing Dow stocks during those 5 days, on average:


On the flip side, Kensho found 21 occasions when GDP missed the consensus by 1 standard deviation. Here were the best performing sectors, on average, in the week after that disappointing report.


So investors get more defensive and hide out in stocks with bigger dividends and more stable revenues.

The best performing Dow members, on average, also generally reflect that defensive posturing.



Disclosure: NBCUniversal, parent of CNBC, is a minority investor in Kensho.