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MARKET OUTLOOK

Superstitious? You Can Place Your Hopes in the Super Bowl Indicator

January 27, 2003|Tom Petruno

Wall Street to Tampa Bay's Bucs: Thank you, we hope.

The so-called Super Bowl Indicator holds that a win by the National Football Conference team, or by an American Conference team that was in the original National Football League before its merger with the American Football League in 1970, foreshadows an up year for the stock market.

If an original AFL team wins the Super Bowl, it's supposed to predict a down year for stocks.

Silly as it may sound, the indicator worked extremely well as a market forecasting tool for most of the last 36 years: The accuracy rate has been 81%.

But since 1998 the indicator has mostly been a bust, erring four straight years from 1998 to 2001. It was back on track last year, when the AFC New England Patriots won the game and the blue-chip Standard & Poor's 500 index suffered its worst drop (23.4%) since 1974.

Some purists contended last week that a win by the Buccaneers wouldn't count as a potential market victory because Tampa Bay was an expansion franchise in 1976 and therefore wasn't part of the original NFL.

But after the worst bear market decline in a generation, many market bulls might be willing to accept all the help they can get -- including from an indicator whose success amounts to nothing more than sheer coincidence.

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-- Tom Petruno

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