How Stocks React After Wall Street Mourns

The last time Wall Street shut down for a day of mourning was in 2007

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:55 AM

U.S. stock markets are shuttered for a national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush, who last week passed away at the age of 94. The last time Wall Street was shut down to honor someone was Jan. 2, 2007, after President Gerald Ford died. So, do these planned, non-holiday respites tend to invigorate stock market bulls, or just the opposite? Here's how the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has performed in the past.

Following the last few days of mourning, the S&P has been lower the next day. After we celebrated Ford 11 years ago, stocks were down 0.12% in the subsequent session, per data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. After President Ronald Reagan was honored in June 2004, stocks fell almost 1% the next day. And Wall Street suffered mild losses after days of mourning for Presidents Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1994 and 1973, respectively.

The last time the S&P was higher after a national day of mourning was in December 1972, after we honored President Harry Truman; the next-day gain was nearly 1%. Stocks skyrocketed in November 1963 after Wall Street shuttered to honor assassinated President John F. Kennedy, but it had been pandemonium prior to that, with the S&P dropping nearly 3% in one day on the sad news out of Dallas. And markets were higher after honoring President Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945, perhaps as Americans sensed that the end of World War II was near.

The only non-mourning event on the list below was in celebration of the 1969 moon landing by Apollo 11. In fact, 1969 was the only year -- since 1933, at least -- with two outages, with the other coming in March to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower. We did not include things like Hurricane Sandy and 9/11 on the list, as those were unplanned.

stock days off since 1933

On average, the SPX has been higher the day after a planned, non-holiday day off just 36.4% of the time, since 1933. That's compared to an average anytime win rate of 53.8%. However, the average return is positive -- at 0.25% -- due to the big reactions after the FDR and JFK memorials. That compares to an average anytime one-day return of just 0.03%.

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