March and April to the Rescue?

Well that got ugly quick.  For the record, if you have been in the markets for any length of time you have seen this kind of action plenty of times.  An index, or stock, or commodity or whatever, trends and trends and trend steadily and relentlessly higher over a period of time.  And just when it seems like its going to last forever – BAM.  It gives back all or much of its recent rally gains very quickly.  Welcome to the exciting world of investing.

I make no claims of “calling the top” – because I never have actually (correctly) called one and I don’t expect that I ever will.  But having written Part I and Part II of articles titled “Please Take a Moment to Locate the Nearest Exit” in the last week, I was probably one of the least surprised people at what transpired in the stock market in the last few sessions.

Of course the question on everyone’s lips – as always in this type of panic or near panic situation – is, “where to from here?”  And folks if I knew the answer, I swear I would tell you.  But like everyone else, I can only assess the situation, formulate a plan of action – or inaction, as the case may be – and act accordingly.  But some random thoughts:

*Long periods of relative calm followed by extreme drops are more often than not followed by periods of volatility.  So, look for a sharp rebound for at least a few days followed by another downdraft and so on and so forth, until either:

a) The market bottoms out and resumes an uptrend

b) The major indexes (think Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, Russell 2000) drop below their 200-day moving averages.  As of the close on 2/25 both the Dow and the Russell 2000 were below their 200-day moving average.  That would set up another a) or b) scenario.

If the major indexes break below their long-term moving averages it will either:

a) End up being a whipsaw – i.e., the market reverses quickly to the upside

b) Or will be a sign of more serious trouble

The main point is that you should be paying close attention in the days and weeks ahead to the indexes in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Major indexes with 200-day moving averages (Courtesy WinWayCharts TradingExpert)

One Possible Bullish Hope

One reason for potential optimism is that the two-month period of March and April has historically been one of the more favorable two-month periods on an annual basis.  Figure 2 displays the cumulative price gain achieved by the S&P 500 Index ONLY during March and April every year since 1945.  The long-term trend is unmistakable, but year-to-year results can of course, vary greatly.

Figure 2 – S&P 500 cumulative price gain March-April ONLY (1945-2019)

For the record:

S&P 500 March-April Result
Number of times UP 55 (73%)
Number of times DOWN 20 (27%)
Average UP% +5.0%
Average DOWN% (-3.4%)

Figure 3 – Facts and Figures

Will March and April bail us out?  Here’s hoping.

As an aside, this strategy is having a great week so far.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented does not represent the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

How Do You Handle a Problem Like October?

OK, so this particular piece clearly does NOT qualify as “timely”.  Hey, they can’t all be “time critical, table-pounding, you must act now” missives.  In any event, as part of a larger project regarding trends and seasonality in the market, I figured something out – we “quantitative analyst types” refer to this as “progress.”

So here goes.

The Month of October in the Stock Market

The month of October in the stock market is something of a paradox.  Many investors refer to it as “Crash Month” – which is understandable given the action in 1929, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1997, 2008 and 2018.  Yet others refer to it as the “Bear Killer” month since a number of bear market declines have bottomed out and/r reversed during October.  Further complicating matters is that October has showed:

*A gain 61% of the time

*An average monthly gain of +0.95%

*A median monthly gain of +1.18%

Figure 1 displays the monthly price return for the S&P 500 Index during every October starting in 1945.

Figure 1 – S&P 500 Index October Monthly % +(-)

Figure 2 displays the cumulative % price gain achieved by holding the S&P 500 Index ONLY during the month of October every year starting in 1945.

Figure 2 – S&P 500 Index Cumulative October % +(-)

So, you see the paradox.  To simply sit out the market every October means giving up a fair amount of return over time (not to mention the logistical and tax implications of “selling everything” on Sep 30 and buying back in on Oct 31).  At the same time, October can be a helluva scary place to be from time to time.

One Possible Solution – The Decennial Pattern

In my book “Seasonal Stock Market Trends” I have a section that talks about the action of the stock market across the average decade. The first year (ex., 2010) is Year “0”, the second year (ex., 2011) is Year “1”, etc.

In a nutshell, there tends to be:

The Early Lull: Often there is weakness starting in Year “0” into mid Year “2”

The Mid-Decade Rally: Particularly strong during late Year “4” into early Year “6”

The 7-8-9 Decline: Often there is a significant pullback somewhere in the during Years “7” or “8” or “9”

The Late Rally: Decades often end with great strength

Figures 3 and 4 display this pattern over the past two decades.

(Charts courtesy of WinWayCharts)

Figure 3 – Decennial Pattern: 2010-2019

(Charts courtesy of WinWayCharts)

Figure 4 – Decennial Pattern: 2000-2009

Focusing on October 

So now let’s look at October performance based on the Year of the Decade.  The results appear in Figure 5.  To be clear, Year 0 cumulates the October % +(-) for the S&P 500 Index during 1950, 1960, 1970, etc.  Year 9 cumulates the October % +(-) for the S&P 500 index during 1949, 1959, 1969, 1979, etc.

Figure 5 – October S&P 500 Index cumulative % +(-) by Year of Decade

What we see is that – apparently – much of the “7-8-9 Decline” takes place in October, as Years “7” and “8” of the decade are the only ones that show a net loss for October.

Let’s highlight this another way.  Figure 6 displays the cumulative % return for the S&P 500 Index during October during all years EXCEPT those ending “7” or “8” versus the cumulative % return for the S&P 500 Index during October during ONLY years ending in “7” or “8”.

Figure 6 – S&P 500 cumulative October % +(-); Years 7 and 8 of decade versus All Other Years of Decade

For the record:

*October during Years “7” and “8” lost -39%

*October during all other Years gained +196%

Summary

So, does this mean that October is now “green-lighted” as bullish until 2027?  Not necessarily.  As always, that pesky “past performance is no guarantee of future results” phrase looms large.

But for an investor looking to maximize long-term profits while also attempting to avoid potential pain along the way, the October 7-8 pattern is something to file away for future reference.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented does not represent the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

MatchMaking a seasonal Energy play

MatchMaking a seasonal Energy play

If you follow jay Kaeppel’s posts in this blog, you’ll know that he’s the master of research on all things seasonal. This past week he posted a seasonal article on energy using FSESX – Fidelity Select Energy Services. Previously he had noted the bullish tendency for ticker FSESX during the months of February, March and April.  In his follow up piece, he added one more “favorable” month and then also looked at a 6-month “unfavorable” period. The article is included at the end of this post so you can see the results.As Mutual funds are not for everyone, we went in search of alternative tickers that could closely match FSESX in performance characteristics. Using WinWay Matchmaker we compared the price action of FSESX against our universe of stocks and ETFs looking for a match.

Matchmaker uses Spearman Rank Correlation analysis to identify a close match to FSESX. The closer the result to 1000, the higher the correlation. Anything over 950 is a very close match. Here’s the results.
Figure 1. MatchMaker correlation for last 4 years – FSESX vs stocks and ETFs
The ETF IEZ – iShares Oil and Equipment & Services showed a very high correlation over the 4 years we tested. OIH – Oil Service Holders, another ETF, also showed high correlation.
Here’s a WinWay overlay chart of recent daily price action comparing FSESX vs IEZ.
Figure 2. Recent daily price action comparing FSESX vs IEZ.
IEZ appears to be a good surrogate for FSESX at least over the last 4 years.
We also wanted a visual of the seasonal pattern in action. Fortunately we have a tool still in development at WinWay that’s just right for this. Basically it provides a price comparison of ‘x’ numbers of years of the same ticker overlaid on each other.
Here’s 3 of the last 4 years on IEZ, the average of the years displayed is in black. We highlighted the Feb, Mar, Apr and Dec in yellow. We could have included more years but for illustration purposes it was easier to show the 3 years (the chart gets busy with too many lines on it!)
Figure 3 – IEZ seasonal chart (beta) for 3 years with average.
The Feb, Mar, Apr period has a definite bullish tendency, the Dec period does Ok too. You’ll notice the tendency for IEZ to fall sharply in January. Conclusion? IEZ is a reasonable surrogate for FSESX if you’re contemplating this seasonal move.
_________________________________________________________
The article this follow up is based upon is by Jay Kaeppel and is included below. Jay is Chief Market Analyst at JayOnTheMarkets.com and TradingExpert Pro client. http://jayonthemarkets.com/

When to Feel ‘Energetic’ (or NOT)

If you are looking for a market sector with some serious seasonal trends, look no further than the energy sector. Previously I had noted the bullish tendency for ticker FSESX during the months of February, March and April.  In this piece, we will add one more “favorable” month and then also look at a 6-month “unfavorable” period.
For the record, the information that follows is not being recommended as a standalone strategy.  It is presented simply to make you aware of certain long-term trends that have been very persistently bullish (or bearish as the case may be) in the energy sector.
4 Favorable Months
*The four “favorable” months for our test are February, March, April and December
Figure 1 displays the growth of $1,000 invested in ticker FSESX only during these four months every year since 1986 versus simply buying-and-holding ticker FSESX.
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Figure 1 – Growth of $1,000 invested in FSESX only during Feb, Mar, Apr, Dec every year since 1986
Starting in 1986, an initial $1,000 investment grew to $76,019 (or +7,500%) versus $10,237 (or 923%) using a buy-and-hold strategy.
6 Unfavorable Months
The six “Unfavorable” months are June, July, August, September, October and November.
First the “positive” news:
*This 6-month period has managed to show a gain 14 times in 31 years – so by no means should you consider this period a “sure thing” loser
*During 4 separate years – 1997, 2003, 2004 and 2010 – the “unfavorable” months registered a cumulative gain in excess of +30%.
Doesn’t sound all that “unfavorable” so far does it?  But here’s the catch: Despite the occasional 30%or more gain, it is fair to refer to this 6-month period as “unfavorable” as the cumulative long-term results of buying and holding FSESX during these months has been nothing short of devastating.
Figure 2 displays the growth of $1,000 invested in ticker FSESX only between the end of May and the end of November every year starting in 1986.
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Figure 2 – Growth of $1,000 invested in FSESX only during June through November every year since 1986
Starting in 1986, an initial $1,000 investment declined to just $82, or a cumulative loss of -91.8%
Figure 3 displays some comparative data between favorable and unfavorable periods as well as using a Buy-and-Hold strategy.
Measure Buy-and-Hold 4 Favorable Months 6 Unfavorable Months
Average Annual % +(-) 12.8 16.5 (-4.2)
Median Annual % +(-) 8.7 15.5 (-1.8)
Standard Deviation 33.4 20.1 24.6
# Years UP 18 26 14
# Years DOWN 13 5 17
Worst Year (-55.4) 2008 (-7.6) 1994 (-62.8) 2008
$1,000 becomes $10,237 $76,019 $82
Cumulative % +(-) +923% +7,500% (-92%)
Figure 3 – Comparative Results
Figure 4 displays the year-to-year results for a Buy-and-Hold approach versus holding only during the 4 “favorable” months or the “Unfavorable” 6 months.
Year All 12 months % +(-) 4 Favorable % +(-) 6 Unfavorable % +(-)
1986 (8.9) (5.2) (9.2)
1987 (20.7) 22.9 (40.1)
1988 (4.2) 22.8 (16.3)
1989 50.3 27.1 16.2
1990 8.7 4.9 (11.2)
1991 (19.9) 4.1 (25.0)
1992 4.9 (1.6) (1.3)
1993 16.4 24.5 (10.7)
1994 (0.5) (7.6) 3.1
1995 40.0 33.7 2.0
1996 45.9 22.5 20.8
1997 43.9 (4.9) 32.9
1998 (41.4) 26.5 (50.5)
1999 80.9 74.1 7.5
2000 51.7 77.6 (21.1)
2001 (22.4) 20.8 (32.4)
2002 2.2 26.2 (18.0)
2003 13.1 15.5 (16.0)
2004 26.2 1.2 30.2
2005 47.4 4.8 34.0
2006 (9.1) (4.1) (1.8)
2007 58.3 25.6 16.7
2008 (55.4) 10.5 (62.8)
2009 60.4 24.5 9.6
2010 31.7 21.6 33.7
2011 (18.5) 3.1 (16.8)
2012 (3.9) 0.7 9.6
2013 14.1 0.3 11.5
2014 (19.5) 7.2 (26.7)
2015 (19.7) 2.9 (17.9)
2016 44.2 28.4 20.1
Figure 4 – Yearly % +(-) for Buy-and-Hold versus 4 Favorable Months versus 6 Unfavorable Months
Summary
There is no guarantee from year-to-year results of buying and holding ticker FSESX during the “Favorable 4” months will show a gain and/or outperform the “Unfavorable 6” months. And there is by no means any guarantee that the “Unfavorable 6” will show a loss during any given year (note that 2016 saw the Unfavorable 6 generate a cumulative gain of +20.1%!).  So just remember that we are talking about some very long-term  trends here.
Still, most investors can discern the difference between:
*Favorable 4 months gain = +7,500%
*Unfavorable 6 months loss = (-92%)
This type of difference is what we “quantitative types” refer to as “statistically significant.”

The Value of the ‘Perspective’ Indicator

Not every indicator that you look at needs to generate exact buy and sell signals.  There are many useful indicators that offer “perspective” more than “precision market timing.”  It can be very helpful to track some of these.
 
The downside of course is that the more indicators you follow the more you can be susceptible to “analysis paralysis” – plus at some point you do have to have “something” that tells you “make this trade NOW!”
 
But the basis for considering tracking certain “perspective indicators” is that they can help to keep you from falling for those age-old pitfalls, “fear” and “greed”.  As the market falls – and especially the harder it falls – the more likely an investor is to start to feel fear.  And more importantly, to start to feel the urge to “do something” – something like “sell everything” to alleviate the fear.
 
On the flipside, when things are going great there is a tendency to ignore warning signs and to “hope for the best”, since the money is being made so easily.
 
In both cases a perspective indicator can serve as – at the very least – a slap upside the back of the head that says “Hey, pay attention!”
So today let’s review one of my favorites.
 
The JK HiLo Index
 
OK, I will admit it is one of my favorites because I developed it myself.  Although in reality the truth is that it simply combines one indicator developed long ago by Norman Fosback and another that I read about in a book my either Martin Pring or Gerald Appel.
 
The calculations are as follows:
 
A = the lower of Nasdaq daily new highs and Nasdaq daily new lows
B = (A / total Nasdaq issues traded)*100
C = 10-day average of B
D = Nasdaq daily new highs / (Nasdaq daily new highs + Nasdaq daily new lows)
E = 10-day average of D
JK Hi/Lo Index = (C * E) * 100
 
In a nutshell:
 
*High readings (90 or above) suggest a lot of “churning” in the market and typically serve as an early warning sign that a market advance may be about to slow down or reverse.  That being said, a close look at Figure 1 reveals several instances where high readings were NOT followed by lower prices.  However, as a perspective indicator note the persistently high reading starting in late 2014.  This type of persistent action combined with the “churning” in the stock market could easily have served as a warning sign for an alert investor.
*Low readings (20 or below) indicate a potential “washout” as it indicates a dearth of stocks making new highs.  Readings under 10 are fairly rare and almost invariably accompany meaningful stock market lows.
 
Figure 1 displays the Nasdaq Composite (divided by 20) with the JK Hi/Lo Index plotted since 2011.
 
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Regarding the difference between a “timing” indicator and a “perspective” indicator, note the two red lines in Figure 2.  The JK HiLo Index first dropped below 20 on the date marked by the first red line.  It finally moved back above 20 on the date marked by the second red line.
 
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Figure 2 – JK HiLo Index (red line) versus Nasdaq Composite (/20) since 2015 (Courtesy TradingExpert)
 
Can we say that the JK HiLo Index “picked the bottom with uncanny accuracy”?  Not really.  The Nasdaq plunged another 10% between the first date the indicator was below 20 until the actual bottom.
 
Still, can we also say that it was useful in terms of highlighting an area where price was likely to bottom?  And did it presage a pretty darn good advance?  I think a case can be made that the answers to those questions are “Yes” and “Yes”.
 
Summary
 
The bottom line is that while there was a great deal of fear building in the market during January and February, an indicator such as this one can help alert an investor the fact an opportunity may be at hand.
 

Jay Kaeppel

 

Chief Market Analyst at JayOnTheMarkets.com and TradingExpert Pro client

 

http://jayonthemarkets.com/

Seasonality – monthly patterns for August 2014

Seasonality – monthly patterns for August 2014

It’s the beginning of the month and time to check the seasonal patterns for August 2014. First off some background.

Our study looks at 7 years of historical data and looks at the returns for all optionable stocks for the month of August from 2006 to 2013.

We filter to find two sets of criteria

 – Stocks with gains in all 7 years during August
 – Stocks with losses in all 7 years in August

We do make an assumption that the month is 21 trading days and work our way back from the last day of the month. If the last day of the month falls on a weekend, then we use the first trading day prior to that date.

We make no assumptions for drawdown, nor do we look at the fundamentals behind such a pattern. We do compare the stock to the market during the same period and look at the average SPY gain/loss vs. the average stock gain/loss. This helps filter out market influence. We are now including group information to identify particular segments that might display a seasonal bias.

Finally we look at the median gain/loss and look for statistical anomalies, like meteoric gains/loss in one year.

So here are the tickers that met the scan on the loss side, There was only 1 stock on the gainers side. So we’ll look at the down plays only.

Figure 1 shows the stocks that have had losses in August, 7 years in row.
It’s almost immediately apparent that 4 of the 6 losers are in the Oil & Gas sector, one in the Drilling group, and 3 in Exploration and Production (2 US) groups. Not looking like a good month to be long this sector. The biggest loser is UPL, UltraPete Corp with an average -9.66% in August. A couple of years have seen significant losses in August, but the median is still -7.42%. Not being one to speculate on why the Oil & Gas sector has so many stocks taking a hit in August, but there it is. Here’s the seasonal chart of UPL through 8/31/2013, the prominent black line is the average of the 7 years in the study.
Figure 2 seasonal for UPL for last 7 years, average line in black
During the same period the market, as measured by SPY declined an average of -0.06, so there was no overriding market influence during this period. 

Figure 3 shows SPY for the same period.


Interestingly a quick check of the Oil & Gas US Explorations and Production group for the same period revealed an average decline of -3.67% in August. The entire group was down 6 of the last 7 years in August. I have 38 stocks in this group in my database.

Figure 4 seasonal average for Oil & Gas US Explorations and Production group
We’ll keep track of the top 2 stocks in the August analysis. UPL and DNR and let you know how they preform.
In July, GLNG was the seasonal star with an average of +8.41% for the 7 years through July 30, 2013. Tracking how it performed this July, GLNG opened at 60.73 on July 1, 2014 and reached a high of 65 on July 30, 2014. Some pullback occurring on July 31, 2014 with the entire market down, but still a gain for the month.
Figure 5 shows the stocks that have had gains in July, 7 years in row.
With seasonality you have to figure out what timeframe you want to analyze before anything else. Logic would seem to dictate that one week; comparing this week to the same period over X years would be the smallest time period you might consider. However there are events that seem to be seasonally predictable that occur at the end of a month or the beginning of the month. We’ll look at some these in a future article. 
 We don’t draw conclusions here, just mine for information.
Groups with seasonal trending in July

Groups with seasonal trending in July

While looking through the seasonal trends in stocks and currencies, we decided to start running the seasonality scans on the S & P 500 groups. As a reminder here are the criteria we consider when running this.

Our study looks at 7 years of historical data and looks at the returns for all groups in the S & P 500 for the month of July from 2006 to 2013.

We do make an assumption that the month is 21 trading days and work our way back from the last day of the month. July also has the July 4th holiday and a half day trading on July 3rd. if the last day of the month falls on a weekend, then we use the first trading day prior to that date.

We make no assumptions for drawdown, nor do we look at the fundamentals behind such a pattern. We do compare the group to the market during the same period and look at the average SPY gain/loss vs. the average group gain/loss. This helps filter out market influence.

Finally we look at the median gain/loss and look for statistical anomalies, like meteoric gains/loss in one year. Here are top 5 performing groups based on average return.

Average return alone is misleading. In the seasonal analysis we need consistent patterns in the price action throughout the periods we are testing, in this case 7 years. While The S & P 500 Motorcycle manufacturers group (MTRCYCLE) looks good on average, it includes one stellar July of 37.50% back in 2010, and has 2 July’s that were negative returns. NOTE: there’s only one stock in the group (guess which one that is!).

The office REITs group (REITOFC) is more consistent. It has an average return for the last 7 years in July of 6.50%, with the last 6 years Julys all positive. There are no stellar months skewing the average. The group also contains only one stock, Boston Properties [BXP].

Here’s the seasonal chart for BXP

Interestingly the other consistent group in July is another REIT, the Diversified REITs (REITDIV). It has an average return for the last 7 years in July of 6.06%, with the last 6 years Julys all positive. There are no stellar months skewing the average. The group also contains only one stock, Vonando Realty Trust [VNO].

A quick check on what the market did during the same period reveals an average return of 1.83% with 4 gaining Julys and 3 losing Julys.

 
 
 
The Oil & gas Equipment group (OILGASEQ) also had a decent average, but is more volatile over the past years, however the last 5 years have all been gainers.
 
Remember, we don’t draw conclusions here, just mine for information.
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