As the year comes to a close there begins a very different part of the year for us as traders and investors. And I’m going to take a break from the discussion of oil stocks this week to give you my perspective on this time of the year, so you can avoid the many pitfalls that year end trading action often delivers.
First, there is the vacation aspect. Many of the best capitalized traders and hedge fund managers will be going away on family holidays – and won’t be providing the kind of liquidity to the markets that they normally do the rest of the year. This, perhaps intuitively, delivers usually more volatility to the markets. And while you may think that more volatility is good for trading, in this case, unless you are at the nexus of that trade, it is instead a difficult time to be starting or managing positions wisely.
Next is the attached desire for hedge fund managers to ‘equalize’ and close out positions for accounting. This means normally using options or other hedges to ‘lock in’ gains and prepare the year-end reports for investors. It matters that 2017 has been on balance a very good year for stocks; even more equalization of share prices will be desired – making liquidity even more difficult to find.
Finally, there is the yearly difficulty of tax-loss selling – a particularly interesting phenomenon this year for energy stocks. While there are a few energy shares that have performed adequately…