What Are Cyclical Stocks?


Cyclical stocks are well known for ebbing and flowing with the rhythm of the economy. These stocks, a reflection of economic trends, demand a keen understanding of how various sectors react to changing economic conditions. This article delves into the world of cyclical stocks, offering insights into their nature, impact, and strategies for navigating their unique challenges and opportunities in the financial markets.

What Is a Cyclical Stock?

The cyclical stocks definition refers to shares of companies whose performance closely aligns with the economic cycle. They thrive as the economy booms but often underperform in recessions.

Unlike counter-cyclical stocks, which tend to be stable or even prosper during economic downturns, cyclical stocks mirror the highs and lows of the economy. Industries like travel, automotive, and luxury goods are typical examples where price performance is directly tied to consumer spending and the health of the economy.

Characteristics of Cyclical Stocks

Cyclical stocks are distinguished by a set of defining characteristics. Primarily, they exhibit high volatility in response to economic changes. When the economy is growing, they often see significant gains as consumer confidence and spending increase. Conversely, during economic downturns, they often experience steep declines.

The revenues and profits of these companies are closely tied to economic activities. For instance, in a booming economy, the automotive sector might see increased sales, boosting the value of car manufacturers. Sector-specific sensitivity is a critical aspect of cyclical stocks, meaning investors and traders must be adept at interpreting economic indicators to analyse performance trends.

Another key feature is their correlation with consumer behaviour. Cyclical growth stocks typically see fluctuating demand based on consumer confidence and disposable income, directly impacting the values of companies in these industries.

Cyclical Stocks Examples

Cyclical stocks encompass a variety of industries that are highly sensitive to the economic cycle.

  • Automotive: Companies like Ford and Toyota. Sales in the automotive sector often rise with economic growth, as consumers are more likely to purchase vehicles.
  • Consumer Discretionary: Retail giants such as Amazon and Nike. These securities depend on consumer spending, which fluctuates with economic conditions.
  • Travel and Leisure: Airlines like Delta and hotel chains such as Marriott. Travel spending is typically high during economic booms and drops during recessions.
  • Construction and Housing: Homebuilders like D.R. Horton and Lowe's. Housing market growth is directly linked to the economy, influencing construction activity and home improvement spending.
  • Luxury Goods: Brands like Louis Vuitton and Rolex. Luxury purchases increase with rising consumer wealth in strong economies.

Economic Indicators and Cyclical Stocks

Economic indicators play a pivotal role in the performance of cyclical stocks. Key indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment rates, and consumer confidence indices offer insights into the health of the economy, which in turn influences these stocks.

For example, a rise in GDP often signals growth, leading to increased consumer spending and higher corporate earnings, positively impacting this class of stocks. Similarly, low unemployment rates boost consumer confidence and spending power.

Conversely, negative data may lead to declines in these stocks. During recessions, when GDP contracts and unemployment rises, cyclical sectors like travel and automotive often experience reduced demand, resulting in lower prices.

Risks and Rewards

Although when trading share CFDs, traders can take advantage of both rise and fall in the price of an asset, it’s important to be aware of the risks and rewards of cyclical stocks:


  • Economic Sensitivity: This stock type is vulnerable to economic conditions, leading to potentially greater risks due to the constantly changing environment.
  • Timing Challenges: Predicting the peaks and troughs of economic cycles is difficult. Misjudging the timing might lead to losses.
  • Volatility: They can experience sharp price fluctuations, adding to risks. Want to observe just how volatile these assets can be? Check them on FXOpen’s free TickTrader platform.


  • High Growth Potential: During economic expansions, cyclical stocks may offer market-beating growth as consumer spending and corporate earnings increase.
  • Market Opportunities: Savvy investors and traders may take advantage of the predictable patterns of economic cycles.
  • Diversification: Including cyclical stocks in a portfolio can provide balance, as they often move opposite to defensive, counter-cyclical stocks.

Strategies for Trading Cyclical Stocks

In navigating the cyclical stock market, traders often employ several strategies:

  • Searching for Undervalued Stocks During Recessions: It's common to look for undervalued cyclical shares at the end of recessions. Such a period often presents opportunities for buying at lower prices, anticipating a rebound as the economy recovers​​.
  • Monitoring Economic Trends: Traders typically keep a close eye on indicators like interest rates and consumer spending. Recognising changing trends early may help in making informed decisions about when to buy or sell stocks.
  • Diversification: Traders often diversify their portfolios by including a mix of cyclical and non-cyclical shares. This strategy may help mitigate risk, providing protection against economic fluctuations​​.
  • Moving Into Defensive Stocks as the Economy Falters: As signs of downturn appear, traders may shift towards more defensive stocks, which are less affected by economic cycles.

The Bottom Line

These stocks, mirroring the economic cycle's highs and lows, offer unique opportunities but also pose specific challenges. By combining strategies such as monitoring economic trends, diversifying portfolios, and adopting a long-term view, traders may leverage the potential of cyclical stocks. For those seeking to delve deeper into this dynamic aspect of trading, opening an FXOpen account could be a valuable step towards engaging with the cyclical stock market. Happy trading!

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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