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There a few ways to take advantage of the January effect this year:

Small & Micro-Cap ETFs
The simplest would be to buy small cap stocks or ETFs before the year end and hold until they have a pop. Since the definition of “small-cap” has been continuously revised up over the past few years, it might be a good idea to look at “micro-cap” stocks. Here are a few ETFs:

  • iShares Russell Microcap Index (NYSEARCA:IWC)
  • First Trust Dow Jones Select MicroCap ETF (NYSEARCA:FDM)
  • Powershares Zacks Micro Cap Portfolio ETF (NYSEARCA:PZI)
  • Powershares Dynamic OTC Portfolio ETF (PWO)
  • iShares S&P SmallCap 600 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:IJR)
  • iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:IWM)
  • iShares Morningstar Small Core Index Fund (NYSEARCA:JKJ)
  • SPDR DJ Wilshire Small Cap ETF (DSC)
  • Vanguard Small-Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:VB)
  • PowerShares Dynamic Small Cap Portfolio (PJM)
  • PowerShares Zacks Small Cap Portfolio (PZJ)

Closed End Funds
Last week I mentioned a method to capture January effect alpha which uses CEF and specifically, municipal/bond CEFs. This year is a bumper crop for this specific strategy because of the vast number of these funds which have severe losses.

Value Line Futures Index
Yet another way to play the January effect is to use the Value Line Arithmetic Index futures. This is a little known equity index compiled by Value Line Inc. - the investment research outfit. It is comprised of approximately 1,650 stocks which are equally-weighted, as opposed to capitalization weighted as in the S&P 500 Index.

The futures for this index are traded at the Kansas City Board of Trade with each contract valued at $25 times the value of the index (appx. 1324). The Value Line January effect strategy is pretty straight forward:

Buy the Value Line contract (nearby month of course) and (sell short) equal value ratio of the S&P 500 Index. Close the position in the first week of January. Depending on the calendar, around the 9th of the month. That’s it.

This simple spread trade has a remarkably high profitability ratio but sadly it only comes once a year. And the advantage it has to the other two year end strategies is that it is market neutral. Although I suppose you could short SPY to offset a long position in small/micro-cap ETFs.

value line index futures january effect

Source: Taking Advantage of the January Effect