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Stock return autocorrelation, day of the week and volatility: An empirical investigation on the Saudi Arabian stock market

Shah Saeed Hassan Chowdhury (Department of Accounting and Finance, College of Business Administration, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia)
M. Arifur Rahman (Department of Accounting and Finance, North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
M. Shibley Sadique (Department of Finance, Faculty of Business Studies, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi, Bangladesh)

Review of Accounting and Finance

ISSN: 1475-7702

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The main purpose of this paper is to investigate autocorrelation structure of stock and portfolio returns in a unique market setting of Saudi Arabia, where nearly all active traders are the retail individuals and the market operates under severe limits to arbitrage. Specifically, the authors examine how return autocorrelation of Saudi Arabian stock market is related to factors such as the day of the week, stock trading, performance on the preceding day and volatility.


The sample consists of the daily stock price and index data of 159 firms listed in Tadawul (Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange) for the period from January 2004 through December 2015. The methodology of Safvenblad (2000) is primarily used to investigate the autocorrelation structure of individual stock and index returns. The authors also use the Sentana and Wadhwani (1992) methodology to test for the presence of feedback traders in the Saudi stock market.


Results show that there is significantly positive autocorrelation in individual stock, size portfolio and market returns and that the last two are almost always larger than the first. Return autocorrelation is negatively related to firm size. Interestingly, return autocorrelation is positively related to trading frequency. For portfolios, autocorrelation of returns following a high absolute return day is significantly higher than that following a low absolute return day. Similarly, return autocorrelation during volatile periods is generally larger than that during tranquil periods. Return correlation between weekdays is usually larger than that between the first and last days of the week. Overall, the results suggest that the possible reason for positive autocorrelation in stock returns could be the presence of negative feedback traders who are engaged in frequent profit-taking activities.


This is the first paper that thoroughly investigates the autocorrelation structure of the returns of the Saudi stock market using both index and individual stock returns. As this US$583bn (as of August 21, 2014) market opened to foreign institutional investors in June 2015, the results of this paper should be of significant value for the potential uninformed foreign investors in this relatively lesser known and previously closed yet highly prospective market.



Chowdhury, S.S.H., Rahman, M.A. and Sadique, M.S. (2017), "Stock return autocorrelation, day of the week and volatility: An empirical investigation on the Saudi Arabian stock market", Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 218-238.



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