“Sell in May and go away, don’t come back ‘til St Leger Day”: a well-known old adage indicating that investors should lay off stocks and shares for the summer, long touted as a way to help improve your investment returns.

However, analysis from Fidelity International debunks this stock market maxim and suggests that placing your bets on the adage could have left you out of pocket.

With the famous St Leger Day race taking place on Saturday 16th September this year, Fidelity analysed the returns for the FTSE All Share between 1st May and 1st September over the past three decades. It found that the index produced positive returns over these months in 18 of the past 30 years.

This means that you would have lost out on the majority of occasions had you backed out of the market in May, debunking the St Leger Day adage.

Tom Stevenson, investment director for Personal Investing at Fidelity International, said: “The St Leger Day stock market adage has been doing the rounds amongst investors for decades but perhaps it’s time to retire this old maxim as our analysis shows that it’s a bit of a lame horse. Had you followed the adage over the past 30 years, you would have been worse off 60 per cent of the time.

“While the summer has seen its fair share of geopolitical risks, including rising tension between North Korea and the US, as well as stalling Brexit negotiations, the FTSE All share has still gone on to deliver a positive return between May and September. As such, anyone who followed this stock market adage this summer would have lost out.

“Trying to predict the best time to be in and out of the market is a fool’s errand and getting it wrong can severely dent your long term investment returns. If there is one adage that investors should abide by it is ‘time in the market matters more than timing the market’.”

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