STREET DOGS

Business Day - - THE BOTTOM LINE - Michel Pireu (pireum@street­dogs.co.za)

Don’t “walk un­der any lad­ders, don’t break any mir­rors, don’t spill any salt and don’t let any black cats cross your path. Things are bad enough — it’s Fri­day the 13th!” — Anon.

To say that Fri­day 13th is thought by some to be an un­lucky day is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Stress Man­age­ment Cen­tre and Pho­bia In­sti­tute in the US, an es­ti­mated 17-mil­lion to 21-mil­lion peo­ple in the US are af­fected by a fear of this day; some avoid­ing their nor­mal rou­tines, tak­ing flights or even get­ting out of bed. It’s es­ti­mated that $800m to $900m is lost in busi­ness on this day.

The 13th day of the month falls on a Fri­day at least once ev­ery year and up to three times a year. In 2017, it oc­curs twice, in Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber.

Ev­ery month that be­gins on a Sun­day has a Fri­day the 13th. There will be two Fri­day the 13ths per year un­til 2020, where 2021 and 2022 will have just one oc­cur­rence.

The su­per­sti­tion sur­round­ing this day may have its ori­gin in the story of Je­sus’ cru­ci­fix­ion, in which there were 13 in­di­vid­u­als present at the last sup­per the night be­fore his death on Good Fri­day.

In Thomas W Law­son’s 1907 novel Fri­day, the Thir­teenth, an un­scrupu­lous bro­ker takes ad­van­tage of the su­per­sti­tion to cre­ate a Wall Street panic on Fri­day the 13th.

In re­al­ity, though, how do stocks per­form on the day?

Not too bad, as it turns out. Brian Lucey, pro­fes­sor of fi­nance at Trin­ity Col­lege Dublin re­ports in a 2000 pa­per that “re­turns on Fri­day the 13th are sta­tis­ti­cally dif­fer­ent from, and gen­er­ally greater than, re­turns on other Fri­day re­turns”.

In a 1999 pa­per J An­drew Coutts found that in the UK, “re­turns are higher on Fri­day the 13th than on other Fri­days”.

No sys­temic pat­tern was found, how­ever, in seven emerg­ing Asian stock mar­kets.

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