(Bloomberg) — Even a choppy September hasn’t changed a key measure of 2021’s bullish tone: only twice in the last 20 years have more S&P 500 stocks headed into the fourth quarter with gains for the year.
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So far this year, 412 members of the S&P 500 are in the green, the third most for any year since at least 2001, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Only five times since 2001 have more than 400 stocks been positive through September — and every time the market added to those gains to cap off the year.
The fourth quarter has historically been the best for stocks, with the S&P 500 seeing an average 4.1% increase in the last three months over the past two decades. And that’s been especially true for years, like this one, when most companies delivered gains during the first nine months.
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But this year is far from normal. Wall Street is grappling with a market whipsawed by the specter of rising interest rates, high valuations, and supply-chain breakdowns, making it far from certain whether historical patterns will hold.
“The general macro tailwinds that have provided a boost are going to be moving in a different direction than they have to this point,” said David Trainer, CEO of investment research firm New Constructs.
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