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Sentiment Indicators

Investors/traders track a range of sentiments (consumer, investor, analyst, forecaster, management), searching for indications of the next swing of the psychological pendulum that paces financial markets. Usually, they view sentiment as a contrarian indicator for market turns (bad means good — it’s darkest before the dawn). These blog entries relate to relationships between human sentiment and the stock market.

Stock Returns After Idiosyncratic Volatility Spikes

Should investors buy or sell stocks experiencing unique (idiosyncratic) volatility spikes? In their August 2016 paper entitled “Unusual News Flow and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns”, Turan Bali, Andriy Bodnaruk, Anna Scherbina and Yi Tang investigate relationships among sudden increases in stock idiosyncratic volatility, unusual firm news, changes in analyst earnings forecast dispersion, short selling and future returns. They identify idiosyncratic volatility shocks as large deviations from the volatility predicted out-of-sample by a regression model that accounts for market, size and book-to-market effects. They identify unusual news flow using Thomson-Reuters News Analytics data (covering 41 media) by comparing the number of stories about a firm in the current month to the average monthly coverage the prior four months, measured overall and separately for positive, negative and neutral stories. They measure changes in analyst earnings forecast dispersion (standard deviation divided by mean) based on data from I/B/E/S as the difference between current dispersion and dispersion two months ago. They measure data on shorting demand and utilization (shares borrowed divided by shares available for lending) using data from Markit. Using monthly values of the specified data from various inceptions through December 2012, they find that: Keep Reading

Effects of Investor Attention Around Earnings Announcements

Do measures of investor attention to specific firms/stocks indicate how the stocks react to earnings surprises? In their July 2016 paper entitled “Yahoo Finance Search and Earnings Announcements”, Alastair Lawrence, James Ryans,  Estelle Sun and Nikolay Laptev investigate the interaction of investor attention and earnings surprises. They focus on abnormal Yahoo Finance search activity as the measure of attention. They define abnormal search activity on a certain day as the total number of searches that day minus average number of searches on the same day of the week during the prior 10 weeks, divided by average number of searches on the same day of the week during the prior 10 weeks. They examine the interaction of abnormal search activity and standardized unexpected earnings (earnings surprises). For comparison they also consider interaction of earnings surprises with three other commonly used measures of investor attention: abnormal trading volume, EDGAR search and Google Trends search. Using daily search and quarterly earnings announcement data during July 2014 through June 2015 (14,172 firm-earnings announcement observations) and associated daily stock returns during July 2014 through June 2016, they find that: Keep Reading

Testing 25 U.S. Stock Market Return Predictors

What variables best predict U.S. stock market returns? In his June 2016 paper entitled “Which Variables Predict and Forecast Stock Market Returns?”, David McMillan examines the power of 25 variables to predict excess return (relative to the 3-month U.S. Treasury bill yield) of Shiller’s S&P Composite Index both in-sample and out-of-sample. He chooses variables based on connectedness to expected cash flow/dividends and risk and assigns them to five groups:

  1. Financial ratios: dividend-price, price-to-earnings, cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE or P/E10), Tobin’s Q and market capitalization-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  2. Economic:  GDP cycle, GDP acceleration (rate of change in GDP growth), consumption growth, 10-year to 3-month Treasuries term spread and inflation.
  3. Labor: wage growth, unemployment, natural rate of unemployment, productivity growth and labor market conditions.
  4. Housing: house price growth, house affordability, home ownership, housing supply and new house sales.
  5. Other: University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment, Purchasing Managers Index, National Financial Conditions Index, leverage and non-financial leverage.

He employs regressions to test in-sample predictive power. He then tests out-of-sample forecasts starting in 2000 using various forecast methods and accuracy measures and considering both single-variable and multi-variable models. Using the specified data series as available during 1973 through 2014, he finds that: Keep Reading

News Sentiment and Future Stock Returns

Can computer software extract exploitable sentiments about individual stocks as conveyed by news articles? In their June 2016 paper entitled “News Versus Sentiment: Predicting Stock Returns from News Stories”, Steven Heston and Nitish Sinha test whether firm news sentiment as interpreted by Thomson Reuters NewScope reliably predicts stock returns. Input data include article publication time, firm mentioned, headline, relevance to the firm, staleness and sentiment as generated a trained neural network. They exclude articles that: are duplicates; mention firms that do not match ticker symbols; and, have firm relevance scores below 35%. They train the neural network with 3,000 randomly selected articles from December 2004 to January 2006. They specify firm net sentiment as average positive sentiment minus average negative sentiment during the measurement interval (one day or one week). They assess predictive power of net sentiment via a hedge portfolio that is long (short) the equally weighted returns of the fifth, or quintile, of stocks with the highest (lowest) net daily or weekly sentiment. They also run a regression that controls for neutral news to isolate the effects of positive and negative news. Using firm sentiment outputs from the Thomson-Reuters news analytics engine for 900,754 articles published during 2003 through 2010, and associated daily stock returns, they find that: Keep Reading

Contrarian Sports Betting as a Diversifying Investment

Can systematic, contrarian sports betting usefully diversify conventional investments? In their June 2016 paper entitled “Sports Betting As a New Asset Class: Can a Sports Trader Beat Hedge Fund Managers from 2010-2016?”, Lovjit Thukral and Pedro Vergel investigate whether a specific sports betting strategy outperforms and diversifies the Credit Suisse Hedge Fund Index and the S&P 500 Index. The strategy hypothesizes that horse racing favorites are consistently overrated by betting 1% of a hypothetical portfolio against the top four (lowest odds) horses in each regulated race in the UK. Using historical data from Betfair Exchange for 57,000 horse races and contemporaneous annual returns for the Credit Suisse Hedge Fund Index and the S&P 500 Total Return Index during January 2010 through early January 2016, they find that: Keep Reading

Picking Stocks Based on Option Volume Spikes

Do volume spikes in specific equity options signal abnormal returns for underlying stocks? In his June 2016 paper entitled “Investor Attention Strategy”, Xuewu Wang examines the motivation, construction and profitability of a strategy that selects stocks based on sudden attention to associated options. He defines sudden attention as volume spikes of at least 10 contracts after a week of no trades for equity options with minimum bid $0.10 and maturity no longer than 120 days. He further discriminates among option spikes by ranking them into thirds (terciles) based on either: (1) ratio of call volume to total volume; or, (2) call implied volatility minus put implied volatility (matched by strike price and maturity and averaged across all pairs for a given stock). He forms stock portfolios by buying stocks immediately after volume spikes of associated options and holding them for 30 calendar days. Using daily returns and associated option volumes for all U.S. stocks having options during January 1996 through  December 2013, he finds that: Keep Reading

Predicting Stock Index Reversals with Amareos Sentiment Indicators

Do data-intensive, high-frequency investor sentiment measurements usefully predict stock index performance? In his May 2016 paper entitled “Can Sentiment Indicators Signal Market Reversals?”, Arnaud Lagarde applies a random forest machine learning algorithm to test the power of Amareos sentiment indications to predict stock index reversals. Algorithm training data relates sentiment to known stock index return for the next 182 days (six months). If this return is -20% or lower (+10% or higher), he designates the condition at the time of forecast as a market top (bottom). Otherwise, he designates the condition as neutral. He starts with 20 global equity indexes. He holds out four indexes (CAC40, CSI300, Nikkei and S&P500) for out-of-sample testing. He then randomly selects 80% of daily observations on the other 16 indexes for algorithm training, with the remaining 20% reserved for additional out-of-sample testing. Out-of-sample testing includes tabulation of raw top/bottom identification accuracy and a simple trading strategy that is long (in cash) after a bottom (top) indication and does not react to a neutral indications. He focuses trading strategy testing on: (1) the four hold-out indexes over the entire sample period; and, (2) the last six weeks of data for all indexes, which cannot be used for training. Using daily Amareos market sentiment readings and returns for the 20 equity indexes during January 2005 through mid-April 2016, he finds that: Keep Reading

Blogger Sentiment Analysis

Are prominent stock market bloggers in aggregate able to predict the market’s direction? The Ticker Sense Blogger Sentiment Poll “is a survey of the web’s most prominent investment bloggers, asking ‘What is your outlook on the U.S. stock market for the next 30 days?'” (bullish, bearish or neutral) on a weekly basis. The site currently lists 29 participating bloggers. Participation has varied over time. Because Ticker Sense collects data weekly, we look at weekly measurements and changes in weekly measurements. Because the poll question asks for a 30-day outlook, we test the forecasts against stock market behavior four weeks into the future. Because polling generally takes place Thursday-Sunday, we use coincident Friday stock market close to represent the state of the stock market for each poll. We use [% Bullish] minus [% Bearish] as the net sentiment statistic for each poll. Using poll results from inception in July 2006 through May 2016 (496 polls) and contemporaneous weekly closes of the S&P 500 Index as representative of the broad stock market, we find that: Keep Reading

Stock Market Performance Around VIX Peaks

Do peaks in the S&P 500 Implied Volatility Index (VIX) signal positive abnormal U.S. stock market returns? If so, can investors exploit these returns? In the May 2016 version of his paper entitled “Abnormal Stock Market Returns Around Peaks in VIX: The Evidence of Investor Overreaction?”, Valeriy Zakamulin analyzes U.S. stock market returns around VIX peaks. He employs two formal methods to detect peaks:

  1. When a local maximum (minimum) is at least 20% higher (30% lower) than the last local minimum (maximum), it is a peak (trough).
  2. First, identify all local maximums (peaks) and minimums (troughs) within 8-day windows. Then winnow peaks and troughs and systematize alternation by: excluding peaks and troughs in the first and last 20 days; eliminating cycles (peak-to-peak or trough-to-trough) shorter than 22 days; and, excluding phases (trough-to-peak or peak-to-trough) shorter than 10 days, unless daily percentage change exceeds 30%.

He then tests for abnormal stock market returns around VIX peaks and during preceding and following intervals of rising and falling VIX. Abnormal means relative to the average market return for the sample period. Finally, he investigates whether abnormal returns around peaks are due to investor overreaction. Using daily closes for VIX and daily returns of the broad capitalization-weighted U.S. stock market during January 1990 through December 2015, he finds that: Keep Reading

Best Measure of Investor Sentiment?

Is there a best measure of investor sentiment for predicting stock market returns? In his March 2016 paper entitled “Investor Sentiment and Stock Market Returns”, Lee Smales updates relationships between stock market/portfolio returns and five sentiment measures:

  1. CBOE Implied Volatility Index (VIX).
  2. Baker-Wurgler composite sentiment index (readily available only through 2012).
  3. American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) investor sentiment.
  4. University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index.
  5. Commitment of Traders (COT) reports from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

He controls for multiple economic and financial variables likely to be related to stock market returns (gross domestic product, industrial production, unemployment rate, consumer price index, Federal Funds target rate, term spread, credit spread and dividend yield). He also investigates economic recessions separately. Principal tests relate sentiment levels and changes in sentiment levels to S&P 500 Index and style/industry portfolio returns (from Kenneth French’s data library) at horizons of 1, 3, 6 and 12 months. Using monthly values of sentiment measures as available and monthly index/portfolio returns during January 1990 through December 2015, he finds that: Keep Reading

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