Turns out there may be free lunch from the people who brought us zero interest rates. All you need to do is buy stocks as the Federal Reserve board members gather in Washington, D.C., to discuss monetary policy. Really.
It sounds completely crazy, and even the brainiacs at the NY Fed who wrote a study on this phenomenon are completely befuddled. But the so-called “stock drift” is real.
Here’s the back story. In 1994, the Federal Open Market Committee began releasing a statement about interest rates and other key monetary policy issues after each of its regular eight policy meetings. That was part of a move to make the Fed more transparent. The announcement typically comes at 2:15 ET. Ever since then, in the 24 hours running up to that moment, the annual return on those days for stocks has been 3.89% versus 0.89% on non-FOMC days. It accounts for 80% of the premium investors can reap on stocks for the entire year.
And here’s what makes the pattern so wacky: Only stocks benefit from the pre-FOMC announcement bounce. Not bonds. Not forex. After the FOMC announcement, things get dicey but for the most part, the gains hold, the NY Fed says.
One last chart to show just what they are talking about:
The next FOMC statement will come August 1. Here’s a calendar for the rest of the year. It could come in handy.