The Pre-Holiday Effect is a calendar anomaly in equities – it is the tendency for a stock market to gain on the final trading day before a holiday. Research shows that market return during pre-holiday days is often more than ten times larger than the average return during normal trading days. It seems that a substantial part of the equity premium is concentrated in these several days.
This anomaly has been documented in many countries, so its validity seems really strong. Pre-holiday days on the market are often characterized by lower liquidity as a lot of market participants are not involved in the market, or they lower their exposure. A higher probability of positive market movement is consequently only a natural tendency as people are psychologically more optimistic. Therefore a very simple strategy could be constructed to exploit this market in-efficiency.
The main explanatory factors for this anomaly are behavioral. One explanation states that short-sellers close their risky positions prior to holidays. Another reason could be investors’ good mood around holidays, indicating greater optimism about future prospects and, therefore, a high probability of positive market moves.
Backtest period from source paper
Confidence in anomaly's validity
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calculated from daily return (0.239%) in table 12 do DJ Index, multiplied by 10 (average number of holidays) plus estimated return on cash (4% p.a.)
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CFDs, ETFs, funds, futures
Simple trading strategy
Investors use some simple investment vehicles to gain exposure to US equity market (ETF, fund, CFD or future) only during days preceding holiday days (New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Election Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day). Investors stay in cash during other trading days. The anomaly isn’t limited only to the US market but seems to work well also in other countries; therefore, it could be broadened to include pre-holiday days for local holidays in other markets.
Hedge for stocks during bear markets
No - The strategy is timing equity market but invests long-only into equity market factor (even that only for a short period of time); therefore is not suitable as a hedge/diversification during market/economic crises.
Out-of-sample strategy's implementation/validation in QuantConnect's framework