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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.

Predictive Power of Sentiment Based on Retail Investor Trading Activity

Does the aggregate trading of retail investors usefully predict future stock market returns? Each month, TD Ameritrade samples the equity market exposures of retail clients and publishes the Investor Movement Index (IMX) as a summary statistic. They calculate IMX via a proprietary methodology as the median bullishness/bearishness score for an equally treated monthly sample of retail clients who have traded recently. The IMX release date for a calendar month is about one trading week into the next month. TD Amertirade advises: “It’s best to review IMX trends over time, rather than focusing on one month’s score. …There are no defined bullish/bearish thresholds for the index. Scores should be viewed relative to other periods…” To investigate the usefulness of IMX as a stock market predictor, we relate both monthly IMX and monthly change in IMX to future returns. Using monthly values of IMX and both calendar month and five-day shifted month S&P 500 Index and SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) returns during January 2010 through August 2013, we find that: Keep Reading

Mark Hulbert’s Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index

A reader suggested a review of the stock market commentary of Mark Hulbert, editor of the Hulbert Financial Digest, which tracks the recommendations of a wide range of investing newsletters. He is also a regular columnist at MarketWatch. Because Mark Hulbert uses his Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI) as a principal quantitative tool in formulating his market outlook, we evaluate the usefulness of that index in predicting stock market returns rather than his qualitative commentary. HSNSI “reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timers tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest.” Mark Hulbert presents HSNSI as a contrarian signal for future stock returns; when HSNSI is high (low), he views the outlook for stocks as materially bearish (bullish). Using a sample of 287 values of HSNSI over the period July 2002 through September 2013 (generated by searching MarketWatch.com for “HSNSI” and its predecessor “HSSI”) and contemporaneous daily closes of the S&P 500 Index, we find that: Keep Reading

Asset Class Ranking Subscriber August 2013 Poll Results

The following table summarizes ranking of asset classes by subscribers responding during August 2013 to the following question (via the home page poll): “Which of the following asset classes do you expect to perform best in September 2013?” For comparison, the table also shows ranking of asset classes by momentum as specified in the baseline Momentum Strategy. Keep Reading

Processing News to Predict Stock Returns

Can traders exploit the essential price-moving sentiment expressed in news articles about stocks? In their August 2013 paper entitled “News versus Sentiment: Comparing Textual Processing Approaches for Predicting Stock Returns”, Steven Heston and Nitish Sinha compare the abilities of two different word sentiment dictionaries and a sophisticated neural network to predict stock returns by analyzing news sentiment. Specifically, they use the Harvard General Inquirer Psychosocial Dictionary, the Loughran-McDonald financial dictionary and the proprietary Thomson-Reuters neural network to measure whether news expresses positive, neutral or negative sentiment about associated stocks. They focus on net stock sentiment (positive minus negative) expressed by all relevant articles published over one trading day or one week. They measure predictive power via the difference (in excess of the risk-free rate) between the average future gross returns of the fifths (quintiles) of stocks with the highest and lowest net sentiments. Using the specified sentiment analysis tools and a set of 900,754 Reuters news articles published during 2003 through 2010, they find that: Keep Reading

Reminder: Asset Class Future Performance Poll

We are continuing to test interest in a poll regarding which of nine asset classes will perform best during the next calendar month (September 2013). The poll is in the right-hand column on the CXOadvisory.com home page below the “CURRENT MOMENTUM WINNERS” box.

Participation and results are open only to CXOadvisory.com subscribers. Our assumption (based on site content) is that subscribers are particularly sophisticated investors/traders. Each subscriber may vote only once.

The nine asset classes match those considered in the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy”.

The poll is open until the end of August. See “Asset Class Ranking Subscriber Poll Results” for results of the prior poll.

Asset Class Future Performance Poll

We are continuing to test interest in a poll regarding which of nine asset classes will perform best during the next calendar month (September 2013). The poll is in the right-hand column on the CXOadvisory.com home page below the “CURRENT MOMENTUM WINNERS” box.

Participation and results are open only to CXOadvisory.com subscribers. Our assumption (based on site content) is that subscribers are particularly sophisticated investors/traders. Each subscriber may vote only once.

The nine asset classes match those considered in the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy”.

The poll is open until the end of the month. See “Asset Class Ranking Subscriber Poll Results” for results of the prior poll.

Asset Class Ranking Subscriber July 2013 Poll Results

The following table summarizes ranking of asset classes by subscribers responding during July 2013 to the following question (via the home page poll): “Which of the following asset classes do you expect to perform best in August 2013?” For comparison, the table also shows ranking of asset classes by momentum as specified in the baseline Momentum Strategy. Keep Reading

Google Trends Predict the Stock Market?

Does Google search activity anticipate stock market action? In their paper entitled “Quantifying Trading Behavior in Financial Markets Using Google Trends”, Tobias Preis, Helen Susannah Moat and Eugene Stanley analyze the power of changes in Google search intensity (term search volume relative to total Google search volume) for 98 terms to predict the behavior of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). They apply Google Trends to measure each week the average search intensity for a term over the prior three weeks. They then measure changes in this weekly average search intensity relative to its average behavior over several weeks (with three weeks as baseline). They test a trading strategy that sells (buys) DJIA at the close on the first trading day of the next week if the change in weekly search term intensity is negative (positive) and exits the position at the close on the first trading day of the following week. They consider three benchmarks based on DJIA: (1) buy-and-hold; (2) random weekly timing; and, (3) an index reversion strategy with rules similar to the search intensity strategy. They ignore trading frictions, which involve a maximum of 104 one-way trades per year. Using weekly search intensity data for the specified search words and weekly DJIA closing levels as specified during January 2004 through most of February 2011, they find that: Keep Reading

Predictive Power of Put-Call Ratios

The conventional wisdom is that a high (low) ratio of equity put option volume to equity call option volume is bullish (bearish) because it indicates that investors are overly pessimistic (optimistic). Alternative measurements of the U.S. equity market put-call ratio are total options, index options and individual equity options. Index and equity option buyers may have different motives. Alternative sources of put-call ratios are the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the International Securities Exchange (ISE). CBOE counts volumes for all options transactions. ISE relies on “a unique put/call value that only uses opening long customer transactions to calculate bullish/bearish market direction. Opening long transactions are thought to best represent market sentiment because investors often buy call and put options to express their actual market view of a particular stock. Market maker and firm trades, which are excluded, are not considered representative of true market sentiment due to their specialized nature. As such, the…calculation method allows for a more accurate measure of true investor sentiment…” Do the alternative put-call ratios confirm conventional wisdom? Using available historical daily data for CBOE and ISE total, index and equity option put-call ratios and contemporaneous dividend-adjusted levels of S&P Depository Receipts (SPY) through mid-February 2013, we find that: Keep Reading

News, VIX and Stock Market Returns

How does aggregate stock news sentiment relate to equity market return and volatility? In his October 2012 paper entitled “Time-Varying Relationship of News Sentiment, Implied Volatility and Stock Returns”, Lee Smales investigates relationships among aggregate unscheduled firm-specific news sentiment, changes in the S&P 500 Implied Volatility Index (VIX) and both contemporaneous and future S&P 500 Index returns. He measures daily aggregate unscheduled firm-specific news sentiment as an average of scores calculated by the RavenPack news analysis tool for articles with headlines specifying S&P 500 stocks published for the first time that day on the Dow Jones news wire and in the Wall Street Journal. Unscheduled means exclusion of scheduled news releases such as earnings and dividend announcements. Using daily aggregated news sentiment for S&P 500 firms and levels of the S&P 500 Index and VIX during January 2000 through December 2010, he finds that: Keep Reading

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