Friday the 13th has actually been a pretty good day for stocks

It’s Friday the 13th, and while those of us with triskadekaphobia will be on the lookout for broken mirrors and black cats all day, legendary trader Art Cashin is not particularly worried.

In his daily commentary, Cashin notes, “It’s Friday the 13th and all of the negative myths surrounding it pop up. Friday the 13th actually has a mild upward bias in stock market history.”

We took a look at the performance of the S&P 500 since 1950 and compared the percentage of Fridays the 13th for which the index ended higher than the day before to that percentage for all other days. There is a very small (although not statistically significant) difference between those two percentages in favour of the supposedly unlucky date:

Cashin’s notes continue with a few fun anecdotes about the inauspicious date and its history on Wall Street:

“We think the overall negative myth may be based on a novel published back around 1910. It told of a plot by an evil stock trader (ain’t they all) to crash the market on Friday the 13th.

Prior to 1988, floor brokers used to have fun with the myth by declaring Friday the 13th ‘Hat Day’. Brokers would don silly and bizarre headgear pretending to ward off evil spirits.

It was colourful and a bit of fun. But, shortly after the 1987 crash, we had the biggest and maybe wildest ‘Hat Day’ ever. Inspired by a sense of post-crash survival, it featured a parade on the floor and best in class awards.

Unfortunately, there was a newspaper ‘stringer’ on the floor. He was doing an interview with a specialist who had gone out of business in the crash by making ‘too good a market’. The stringer would later sell a piece to the papers called ‘The Fat Cats In The Hats’. It was a caustic misrepresentation of Hat Day. We have not had one since.”

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