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.