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Google Trends and Market Sell-Offs

James Behr Jr

James Behr Jr

Vice President

February 22, 2018

Tuning out the noise of the media and those around you can be hard especially when it comes to your savings. Many people are subject to react to media headlines or recommendations and opinions from friends with their investments. Nowadays, people are inundated with even more news on their mobile devices, computers, TVs, etc. Where do most people find out general information about equity markets or find news on them? Generally, the internet, and, more specifically, Google.

Do Negative Headlines Generate More Attention?

Below is a chart depicting Google searches containing the keyword “stock market” over the last five years in blue overlaid with the S&P 500 in orange and the Dow Jones Industrial Average in red. A higher amount indicates more searches, while the corresponding number can be found below explaining what was happening in the news or markets during that time. You will notice the higher spikes in the amount of searches accompanied negative news and dips in the market, while the longer, flat periods came during positive growth in the market.

Google Trends for Stock Market Search


Notable Rises in “Stock Market” Search Queries on Google

  1. 10/12/2013: Discouraging remarks from the Fed tapering the Bond purchase program caused the Dow Jones to drop 1.2% and the S&P 500 to drop .70%.
  2. 12/17/2013 – 08/17/2014: S&P 500 gains 12.8%
  3. 10/15/2014: NASDAQ falls nearly 10% along with Dow dropping 460 points as the fear gauge reach its highest levels since 2011. Many investors fled equites into US Government Bonds driving the 10 year treasury yield below 2%.
  4. 08/10/2015-08/24/2015: “Market Mayhem” Dow drops 1000 points along with a 120 point drop in the S&P 500. Sell offs came after the China Shanghai Composite crashed 8.5% along with the German DAX and FTSE reaching bear market lows. CBOE volatility index spikes to over 45%.
  5. January 2016: Dow and S&P 500 pullback 5% as oil prices reach all-time lows and concerns about China loom.
  6. June 2016: Multiple day sell off occurs as Brexit vote passes. S&P 500 loses 3.5% in one day along with Dow shedding 611 points.
  7. November 2016: Concerns over the election caused increased volatility in the stock market.
  8. November 2016 – December 2017: S&P 500 gains 23.3%.
  9. February 2017: Fear of inflation after a better than expected jobs report and the possibility that the Fed will raise interest rates caused the Dow to fall 7.03% and the S&P to fall 6.13% in two trading days.

The spike begins at the start of February. On Friday, February 2nd, the S&P 500 was down 2.12% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.54% in one day; the most volatile the market had been in a long time. As you can see, many people turned to the internet to find out exactly what was going on. The following Monday, the stock market was negative again leading to an even larger spike in searches about the stock market. Equity markets made national and even local news headlines causing many investors to panic.

Avoiding “Panic Sell”

What this tells us is that people are exposed to headline news when there is doom and gloom and less interested when there is growth in the markets. In fact, many stock market news outlets have admitted their ratings are higher when the market is going down. Getting caught up in the bad news may cause investor to stray from their current financial plan or “panic sell” investments to feel safe. We have written before about not allowing sensational media headlines to affect your investing decisions on our blog. The bottom line is that the fear of losing money is much stronger than the euphoria that comes as markets move higher.

As always if you have any questions please contact us at or call us at (610)-825-3540.

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Google Trends and Market Sell-Offs

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