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Technical Trading

Does technical trading work, or not? Rationalists dismiss it; behavioralists investigate it. Is there any verdict? These blog entries relate to technical trading.

Using Trailing Stop Losses to Reduce Risk

Do stop-loss orders (automated position exits based on a cumulative loss threshold) enhance returns and reduce risk? In their 2008 paper entitled “The Value of Stop Loss Strategies” Adam Lei and Huihua Li investigate whether traders using stop-loss strategies to exit losing positions in individual stocks outperform a comparable buy-and-hold strategy. They test the following strategy alternatives: holding periods of three months, six months or one year; stop-loss thresholds of 5, 10 or 20 daily return standard deviations; reinvestment of stopped out positions in either the S&P 500 index or the one-month Treasury bill; and, a fixed stop price or a trailing stop price that follows stock price upward (but not downward). Using historical and simulated daily return data for a broad sample of NYSE/AMEX-listed stocks and random buy dates over the period 1970-2005, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Do Stop Losses Work?

Does systematic use of stop-loss orders (automated position exits based on a cumulative loss threshold) improve net returns? Both the April 2008 paper entitled “Re-examining the Hidden Costs of the Stop-Loss” by Kira Detko, Wilson Ma and Guy Morita and the May 2008 draft paper entitled “When Do Stop-Loss Rules Stop Losses?” by Kathryn Kaminski and Andrew Lo address this question with theory and empirical tests. They conclude that: Keep Reading

Technical Analysis Tested Globally

Does technical analysis work in equity markets around the globe? In the July 2008 version of their paper entitled “Technical Analysis Around the World: Does it Ever Add Value?”, Ben Marshall, Rochester Cahan and Jared Cahan apply bootstrapping techniques to investigate the profitability of 5,806 technical trading rules (filters, moving averages, support and resistance analyses, and channel break-outs) in the 23 developed and 26 emerging equity markets that comprise the Morgan Stanley Capital Index (MSCI). Using daily data for all 49 markets over the period 2001-2007, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Trading the QQQQ-IWM Relationship?

A reader suggested that reversion in the relationship between PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ) and iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM) may support short-term trading. To check, we consider: (1) the QQQQ-IWM ratio over the long term; (2) this ratio relative to its six-month moving average; and, (3) unusual daily divergences between these two exchange-traded funds. Using daily adjusted closing prices for QQQQ and IWM over the period 5/26/00 (the earliest available for IWM) through 7/29/08, we find that: Keep Reading

The “Short Term Stock Selector” Designed by Robert Hesler

A reader inquired about the “Short Term Stock Selector” designed by Robert Hesler, which “has provided neural network generated swing trading predictions [approximately daily] since 1996. …All buy and sell recommendations are based on 19 technical indicators. Some indicators pertain to the market in general while others pertain to individual stock attributes.” We focus for this review on the most profitable type of trades (Type A), for which the site claims a 66.3% win rate and a 40% annual return on investment over the period 4/11/96 through 6/17/08. Using the detailed listing of 12,340 closed Type A trades over this period, we find that: Keep Reading

The Palisades Research Daily Stock Market Forecasts

A reader requested that we test the stock market forecasts of John Vitale as posted via daily stock market commentary at the Palisades Research web site. The Palisades Research forecasting method involves “a statistical approach to market trading. The technique is unique and proprietary. It relies on two basic elements, ‘money flow’ and ‘investor emotion.’ …The total effort of this program goes into forecasting the direction of the S&P 500 index for the single following day. …Our main program indicates that the next day’s direction can be forecast with a 60% – 70% reliability compared to 53% with buy and hold, but even this is very difficult to maintain in real life.” In this review, we use both regressions and rankings to test the accuracy of the forecasts. Using the record of daily Palisades Research stock market commentary over the period 5/16/06-5/15/08 (499 daily forecasts) and next-day daily opening levels for the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq 100 index over the same period, we find that… Keep Reading

Trading After N-day Highs and Lows

Is there a predictable market reaction to stocks reaching round-number n-day highs and lows? In their November 2007 paper entitled “Highs and Lows: A Behavioral and Technical Analysis”, Bruce Mizrach and Susan Weerts investigate whether there are systematic trading behaviors for stocks posting 10-day, 25-day, 50-day, 100-day, 150-day, 200-day and 52-week highs and lows. Using daily price data for 488 Nasdaq stocks and 361 NYSE stocks over the period January 1993 through October 2003, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Technical Analysis Tested on Long-run DJIA Data

Does technical analysis work after accounting for luck and trading frictions? More specifically, can traders reliably identify technical rules that generate future net outperformance? In the January 2008 version of their paper entitled “Technical Trading Revisited: Persistence Tests, Transaction Costs, and False Discoveries”, Pierre Bajgrowicz and Olivier Scaillet investigate the economic value of technical trading rules applied to long-run daily Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) data. Their approach includes: (1) a new measure of data snooping bias to distinguish between luck and true forecasting power in backtesting; (2) out-of-sample persistence testing of recently successful trading rules; (3) determination of whether certain trading rules work consistently under specific economic conditions; and, (4) incorporation of trading costs. Using daily DJIA price and volume data for January 1897 through July 2007 to test 7,846 rules (filters, moving averages, support and resistance, channel breakouts and on-balance volume averages), they conclude that: Keep Reading

Rough Test of the Concept Underlying the BMW Method

A reader inquired about a test of the BMW Method, defined as follows:

“I trust the CAGR. That is the compound average growth rate. I look back 30 years to get a base number to work from and I then calculate the range of CAGR’s that encompass the full range of stock prices over that 30 year period. The curves are extended into the future by 5 to 10 years and I have a complete picture of what has been and what can be if the business just rolls on along. I buy stocks when they are priced significantly below the lowest historical 30 year CAGR. It happens often. If I cannot find a business that is significantly below the low CAGR, I will settle for some that are on their 30 year lows or just below that level. These do not enthuse me nearly as much, but they will rebound also. The history proves it. This is a definite buy low, sell high concept…except it works. In fact, I want anyone to explain in detail how it cannot work.”

This description is not a precise specification. To test the underlying concept, we hypothesize that the short-term compound growth rate of a broad market index tends to revert to a longer-term compound growth rate. If we enter the market after intervals of relatively low short-term growth and exit after intervals of relatively high short-term growth, we may be able to outperform a buy-and-hold strategy. We use the S&P 500 index to represent the stock market because of its long history. For trading precision we use daily closing levels of the index, with one-year intervals for the short-term growth trend and 30-year and five-year intervals for the long-term growth trend. Using S&P 500 index closing levels for 1/3/50 through 3/3/08, we find that… Keep Reading

Combining RSI and MACD in Search of Concentrated Abnormal Returns

Here is a simple test of the usefulness of the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and the Moving Average Convergence/Divergence (MACD), combined, in search of more concentrated abnormal returns. Using those signals and daily dividend-adjusted SPY closing prices from 1/29/93 (the earliest available) through 2/29/08, we find that: Keep Reading

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