Stocktake: March was the ‘craziest’ month in market history

There’s nothing normal about recent market activity

The S&P 500 fell 4.4 per cent last Wednesday, its worst start to a quarter. You may not have noticed: huge one-day price moves have, as S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Hamish Preston notes, become the “new normal”.

In truth, there's nothing normal about recent market activity. In fact, March was the "craziest" month in history, says Ritholtz Wealth Management's Nick Maggiulli.

If the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up or down 1 per cent every day for 30 days, it would have a cumulative absolute percentage change of 30 per cent. Historically, in an average month with about 22 trading days, you would have a cumulative percentage change of 15 per cent.

With stocks moving an average of 5.3 per cent each day in March, the cumulative percentage change was 117 per cent – much bigger than that seen in the worst months in 1929 and 2008. March was like eight average months stuffed into one, says Maggiulli. We might, says Maggiulli's colleague Michael Batnick, never again experience anything like it.