May's Best And Worst Performers... Usually

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LOSERS

Banks

The month of May actually begins a tough two-month stretch for bank stocks. The group loses about half a percentage point in the coming month, leading into an average loss of about 1.5% in June. Even in a good year, the group doesn't do all that well. In a bad year, it does noticeably worse. The group is starting out this summer stretch in an overbought condition.

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Home Furnishings

Home furnishing stocks tend to shrug off a reliably sluggish start to every new year and hammer out a nice advance in April. But, like clockwork, that gain turns into profit-taking in May that bleeds into and through June. The average setback for furniture and decorating names in the month ahead is a loss of 1.4%, followed by a 3.5% pullback in June. This year has shaped up a bit differently than most, but only in the sense that the early gains have set up an even bigger summertime swoon.

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Personal Products

There's never a great summer to be holding personal products names like Avon Products (AVP) or Nu Skin (NUS), but the big gain from these names earlier this year could prove problematic in the very near future. Even in a bullish year these names collectively lose about 2.5% of their value and lose roughly 3% of their value in the typical May-June stretch. They're starting this May up 28% from the end of last year.

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BOTTOM LINE

A calendar tendency is clearly no guarantee of a future result. And, current market circumstances make them even less reliable now. The fourth quarter drubbing set up a first-quarter rebound which has left stocks technically overbought, but only back near September's high. Traders are still trying to get a grip on what's supposed to happen here.

Nevertheless, averages are averages for a reason. Even if only three or four of the aforementioned averages bear fruit as expected this time around, it will be an endeavor worth tackling. The market isn't "won" just with big, sweeping victories, which are actually rather rare. The market is one by pocketing nickels and dimes over and over again. That's the target the above charts are aiming at.

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