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Sports trivia: The Dow loves the Olympic Games

The Olympic flag is handed from London Mayor, Boris Johnson, left, to the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, during the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics on Sunday.
The Olympic flag is handed from London Mayor, Boris Johnson, left, to the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, during the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics on Sunday.Jeff J Mitchell / AP

Economists have warned that the 2012 Olympics won’t have a beneficial effect on the U.K.’s recession-hit economy, but there could be a profit to be made in the stock market.

According to Bespoke Investment Group, a money management and research firm, the average rate of return of the Dow Jones industrial average from the opening to closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games over the past 112 years was a remarkable 4 percent. (There have been 26 Summer Olympic Games since 1900, with three canceled due to world wars).

From 1980 to 1996, during which time there were five Summer Olympic Games, the Dow gained ground during every event, but in the three Summer Olympics since 2000 the index has fallen twice and gained once, Bespoke said. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics the Dow fell 0.91 percent, which Bespoke notes isn’t bad since the global economy was in a severe downturn.

Surprising gains included the 1904 Summer Olympic Games, which were held in St. Louis, Mo. During the Games the Dow jumped 41 percent. Double-digit moves were also seen during the 1908, 1920 and 1932 Games.

From its opening ceremony on July 27 until its closing ceremony this past weekend, the Dow has gained 1.01 percent -- this is just above the historical median gain of 0.91 percent during the Olympics for the Dow, Bespoke said.

For this year’s host country, the U.K., the Games have driven up the country’s benchmark FTSE 100 index up 3.91 percent -- that’s more than twice the 1.72 percent median gain for the stock markets of host countries going back to 1984, according to Bespoke.

(A tip of the hat to Investopedia, which previously reported the Bespoke data.)

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