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Accurate stock market predictions

(MoneyWatch) The financial media tends to focus most of its attention on stock market forecasts by purported investment gurus. They do so because they know that's what gets the public's attention. Investors must believe they have value or they wouldn't tune in. Nor would they subscribe to investment newsletters, nor publications like Barron's that claim to provide you with "news before the markets know."

Unfortunately for investors, there's a whole body of evidence demonstrating that market forecasts have no value (though they provide me with plenty of fodder for my blog) - the accuracy of forecasts is no better than one would randomly expect. For investors who haven't learned that forecasts should only be considered as entertainment, or what Jane Bryant Quinn called investment porn, they actually have negative value because forecasts can cause them to stray from well-developed plans.

The latest piece of evidence illustrating the futility of forecasts comes from CXO Advisory Group. The investor research firm set out to determine if stock market experts, whether self-proclaimed or endorsed by others, provide useful guidance on how to time the stock market. To find the answer, from 2005 through 2012 they collected and investigated roughly 6, 600 forecasts for the U.S. stock market offered publicly by 68 experts, bulls and bears employing technical, fundamental and sentiment indicators. Their collection included forecasts, all of which were publicly available on the Internet and which went back as far as the end of 1998. They selected experts based on Web searches for public archives with enough forecasts spanning enough market conditions to gauge their broader accuracy.

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