Cyclical stocks are stocks that follow the movement of the economy. Their price movements have a positive correlation with the different economic cycles an economy goes through. They will follow a similar pattern and are therefore exposed to macroeconomic and systemic economical shifts experienced by economies.

The economy goes through different cycles, either expanding or contracting, it can hit a peak or it can go through a recession. When the economy is booming the stock will be up, when the economy is in recession the stock will retract. 

Cyclical stocks are closely related to consumer spending. As consumers feel the urge and capability to spend, then these stocks will benefit. 

Why do cyclical stocks follow the economy?

Cyclical stocks are dependent on consumer spending. When an economy is growing consumers will be able to spend more. Thus, benefiting cyclical stocks. Conversely, when the economy contracts consumers will cut down on their spending. This directly affects the companies working in these sectors, as their customers reduce spending.

Examples of cyclical stocks

Cyclical companies are usually found in some of these sectors:

  • Durables
  • Nondurables
  • Services


Durables manufacturing companies build physical goods that consumers purchase to use for a period longer than 3 years. Some examples of these are automotive, furniture, and large appliance companies. 

Durables are one of the key economic indicators of the recovery of a recession. As consumers start to purchase more durable goods it may lead to economic gains in future months. Interest rates help these cyclical durables. They are also dependent on the macroeconomic picture. As the Fed loosens lending guidelines it improves consumer spending and large ticket purchases are more likely. 


Nondurable manufacturing companies supply products with a short life span. Typically under 3 years. Some examples of companies in the nondurables sector are electronic manufacturers and retailers. Non-essential products are usually described as nondurables. As consumer spending will go to essentials or defensive industries during a recession, consumers will often reduce their spending on non-essential items. During an economic peak, spending on nondurables is strong towards non-necessities, as consumers have more disposable income.  


The service industry is also very cyclical. Leisure travel, restaurants, entertainment, and banks are all part of the services industry. Therefore, stocks in these industries are cyclical. If the economy is in recession, it is less likely that consumers will spend on travel or entertainment. They will instead focus on essential services and goods. Streaming services are a new addition to this category due to the non-contractual nature of these services.  

Cyclical vs. Non-Cyclical 

It is essential that retail investors understand the key differences between cyclical and non-cyclical stocks. Cyclical companies have a positive correlation with the different economic cycles. So when an economy is growing these stocks tend to perform better than non-cyclical companies.

Cyclical companies are also able to grow significantly. Conversely, non-cyclical companies tend to have more modest growth. Due to the type of goods and services they provide, they are less likely to see a surge in demand, which translates into higher revenues. 

It is important to hold both cyclical and non-cyclical companies in your portfolio. The non-cyclical stocks ensure that you are hedged against a possible economic downturn. Conversely, cyclical stocks guarantee you higher returns, during an economic boom.

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