Why No Fed Action Is Needed For Lighter Quantitative Tightening In The Coming Months

The Fed meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday is being closely watched by Wall St. Policy changes and rhetoric about future policy could set the tone for trading. A rate hike is currently expected, though there is some doubt. Futures are currently pricing in about a 76% chance of a hike on Wednesday.

In addition to rate policy, the Fed could also look to make changes to its Quantitative Tightening (QT) policy. An easy way for them to move from a hawkish to a more dovish approach at some point would be to reduce the monthly QT schedule. The current schedule calls for allowing up $50 billion per month to roll off the books through expirations that are not reinvested. The breakdown of the $50 billion is $20 billion in AMBS and $30 billion in treasuries. But looking at the treasury expiration schedule shows us that we are now in a period where $30 billion of expirations is becoming rare. This can be seen from the table below, which is taken from the Fed’s website.

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December will see a $18 billion worth of treasuries maturing. January will be even lighter with less than $12 billion in expirations. And after a big QT amount in February, March will also fall well short, with $22 billion set to expire.

The big takeaway with regards to QT is that December and January will have greatly reduced amounts without any policy changes. There is little reason for the Fed to even consider changes here until the January meeting at earliest. And $50 billion per month will only be reached occasionally after that.

QT can serve as a headwind for the market. But that headwind will not be as strong the next couple of months.

To learn more about how these kind of Fed policies have impacted market movement over the years, you may download the Fed-Based Quantifiable Edges for Stock Market Trading for free. More info here.

 

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The Most Wonderful Week of the Year…2018 edition

Over several time horizons op-ex week in December has been the most bullish week of the year for the SPX. The positive seasonality actually has persisted for up to 3 weeks. I’ve shown the study below in the blog many times since 2008. It looks back to 1984, which was the first year that SPX options traded. The table is updated again this year.

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The stats are extremely strong. This year I also decided to throw in the 5-day equity curve.

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The 2 sizable dips you see were 2000 and 2011. And even with those shown, it is a very persistent move higher. Price action has been tough lately, but the bulls should have seasonality on their side next week.

 

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90 Years Of Death Crosses

The SPX could complete a “Death Cross” formation today or tomorrow, in which the 50-day moving average crosses below the 200-day moving average. In the past I have looked back to 1960 when examining Death Crosses. This time I decided to use Amibroker with my Norgate database, which goes back to 1928, and examine Death Crosses back as far as I can. This made for an interesting starting point, because the 1st instance, in 1929, came shortly after the 1929 market crash that was followed by the Great Depression. It was also followed by the most substantial decline – by far. Let’s first look at a list of all the Death Cross formations and how the SPX performed while they were in effect.

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Below are summary stats for the above trades.

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Interestingly, 33 of the 46 instances (72%) actually saw the SPX realize gains while the Death Cross was in effect. The problem is the losing trades were very large. And even most of the winners saw a sizable round-trip lower before they were able to carve out some gains. The average drawdown for these 46 trades would have been 13.3%. And there were 5 separate instances that saw drawdowns of at least 45%.

Even though the giant losers were relatively rare, their impact is large. And the fact that the 1st instance was the worst instance also provides a great example how devastating large drawdowns can be. The profit curve below shows a hypothetical portfolio of only being invested in the market during SPX Death Crosses.

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The 1st instance from 1929 – 1933 saw the portfolio rise to $120k before falling down as low as about $20k and then finishing that trade with a value of about $34k. And it has never managed to get back to breakeven. The 72% “win rate” on the Death Cross tells me it is NOT a reliable timing device. But the few instances of massive losses show just how valuable it can be to protect gains and avoid large portions of nasty bear markets. If we get into a big bear market, I won’t actually be sitting out of the market for several years. But it does allow traders to adjust strategies, exposure and other risk parameters. The Death Cross / Golden Cross on its own is not a great system. But it can help traders put the market into a context where they can better evaluate opportunities. And I have also found in helpful when combining with other timing indicators.

 

Note: The Quantifiable Edges Market Timing Course does look at the Golden Cross / Death Cross in combination with other timing indicators.

 

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When SPX Closes Higher On Bad Breadth

While the SPX closes higher on Tuesday, NYSE breadth was weak – both from an % Up Issues and % Up Volume standpoint. This triggered the study below from the Quantifinder. I also discussed it in last night’s subscriber letter.

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Here we see numbers suggesting a substantial bearish edge over the next 1-4 days. Below is the full list of instances and their 4-day returns.

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Aside from the one trade in 2012, the moves lower have been generally strong and very consistent. Traders may want to take this into consideration when setting their bias for the next few days.

 

 

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Why Wednesday’s Disappointing Afternoon May Be Bullish

After a couple of large down days and a big gap up Wednesday morning, the rest of Wednesday was a disappointment for the bulls. But the failure to follow through on the morning strength is not necessarily a bad sign looking out over the next couple of days. The study below from the Quantifinder was shown in last night’s subscriber letter.

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Instances are very low here, but we see some examples of powerful buying over the next few days. While I am seeing a mix of studies right now, this one favors the bulls. Traders may want to keep this in mind as they consider their trading bias.

 

 

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Thanksgiving Week Seasonality – An Updated Look

The time around Thanksgiving has shown some strong tendencies over the years – both bullish and bearish. I have discussed them a number of times over the years. In the updated table below I show SPX performance results based on the day of the week around Thanksgiving. The bottom row is the Monday of Thanksgiving week. The top row is the Monday after Thanksgiving.

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Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week do not show a strong, consistent edge. But the data for both Wednesday and Friday looks quite strong. Both of those days have seen the S&P 500 rise over 70% of the time between 1960 – 2017. The average instance managed to gain about 0.3% for each of the 2 days. (This is shown in the Avg Profit/Loss column where $300 would equal a 0.3% gain.) That is a hearty 1-day move. Meanwhile, the Monday after Thanksgiving has given back over half the gains that the previous 2 days accumulated. It has declined 66% of the time and the average Monday after Thanksgiving saw a net loss of 0.37%.

Of course I am not the first person to notice this. Strong Thanksgiving seasonality has been noted by many analysts over the years. So one (valid) concern that traders have with well-known seasonal tendencies is that they can be easily front-run. If people know there is a good chance that the market will rise Wednesday through Friday, they will look to get long on Tuesday. And if all the people buy ahead of the bullish period, then that may either dilute or eliminate the seasonal edge.

From 1960 – 1986 someone who bought Tuesday’s close and sold Friday’s close would have seen the SPX decline only 1 time. But from 1987 – 2017 there were 8 instances where SPX did not close higher on Friday than it did on Tuesday. So perhaps the edge became so well known that it was diluted by front-running.

To determine whether the Wednesday – Friday Thanksgiving edge may have been front-run a particular year, you could examine price action. I have repeatedly found that a market that is oversold going into a strong seasonal period will perform better than a market that is overbought going into a strong seasonal period. A very simple metric that could be used in this case would be to see whether the market closed in the top or bottom half of its intraday range on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. To do this I used SPY instead of SPX, because it had better intraday data.

Since 1993, I found that years in which SPY closed in the top half of its intraday range on Thanksgiving Tuesday posted a 9-5 record from Tuesday’s close to Friday’s close. When SPY closed in the bottom half of its range on Tuesday the performance over Wednesday to Friday was 10-1. And the average instance posted a 0.8% gain these years versus a 0.1% average gain the other years. So Tuesday’s action appears worth watching as we approach this potentially seasonally bullish period.

 

 

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The History of Russell 2000 Death Crosses & SPX Performance Following Them

I have seen a fair amount of hubbub about the Russell “Death Cross” that is happening today and the potential bearish implications for the market. A “Death Cross” is a catchy (though perhaps not terribly accurate) term for when the 50-day moving average of a security cross below its 200-day moving average. It is being promoted as a warning of a potential bear market. Of course all bear markets will see this happen at some point, because a bear market is an extended decline. But the real question when considering the implications of the Death Cross are whether it serves any value in predicting a bear market. To answer this I did an examination of past Russell Death Crosses, and what they meant for the S&P 500.

Both of my data sources show Russell data back to late 1987. And since I need 200 days to calculate a 200-day moving average, the earliest the study could look back to was 1988.

Here is the list of all Russell Death Crosses and how the SPX performed from the time of the initial cross until the Russell Death Cross was no longer in effect (meaning the 50-day moving average closed back above the 200-day moving average).

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Eighteen winners. Only three losers. So 86% of the “predictions” were wrong. Here is a look at the summary stats and a profit curve for this setup.

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I am having a hard time seeing the Russell 2000 Death Cross as a bearish indication. You would have a much easier time convincing me this is a bullish indication for the intermediate-term.

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A 20-Day Closing High On A Follow Through Day (FTD) Has Provided A Bullish Edge

One notable bit of evidence that emerged on Wednesday was the fact that it qualified as an IBD Follow Through Day (FTD). I have done a lot of research on FTDs over the years. Much of that research can be found here on the blog. Unusual about this FTD is that it occurred in conjunction with SPX making a new 20-day high. This triggered the study below, which I last discussed in the 10/19/2011 blog.

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Results here are impressive over both the short and intermediate-term. To get a better feel for the short-term returns I have listed the instances below.

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The run-up to drawdown ratio here is quite impressive. I’ll also note that 10 of the 13 instances went on to have “successful” rallies. (“Success” means it either hit a new 200-day high or at least rose 2x as much as it had already risen off the bottom.) The 3 instances whose rallies did not succeed (circled in red) all saw run-ups of at least 2% before they eventually rolled over and made new lows.

 

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Midterm Elections Have Not Provided A Reliable Short-Term Market Edge

Today I decided to look at SPX performance following past mid-term elections. I did not find much that suggested a strong edge. Below is a look at results since 1970 following mid-term elections.

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The numbers suggest perhaps a mild inclination for the market to “celebrate” the results on Wednesday. After that there does not appear to be a strong tendency in either direction. Below are the 1-day instances listed out for those that are interested.

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This Incredibly Bullish Seasonal Period Has Just Begun

With the calendar moving from October to November, it has now entered its “Best 6 Months”. The “Best 6 Months” tendency was first published by Yale Hirsch, founder of the Stock Trader’s Almanac, in 1986. The concept behind the “Best 6 Months” is simple. Seasonality suggests that over the last several decades the market has made a massive portion of its gains between November and April. And during the remaining 6 months, it has generally struggled to make headway.

Additionally, the market shifted into the 3rd year of the Presidential cycle. Here at Quantifiable Edges we measure the Presidential Cycle years from November – October rather than January – December. That allows the cycle years to better match up with the elections, which take place in early November. It also makes for easy evaluation when combining it with the “Best 6 Months” cycles. The 3rd year of the Presidential Cycle has been a strong one.

When the Best 6 Months and the 3rd Year of the Presidential Cycle have been active at the same time, the results since 1960 have been outstanding. In the table below I have listed out each instance.

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All 14 instances since 1960 have shown gains. Of course there have been drawdowns along the way. The 1974-75 period saw SPX pull back 13.2% from its October closing price before rebounding and finishing April 18.1% above the October closing price. And in 2002-03 there was a 10.85% drawdown from the October close before finishing April 3.5% above it. But overall the stats have been incredibly lopsided. The average 6-month period saw a net gain of 15.5%. The average run-up (from the October close) was 17.7% and the average drawdown just 3.1%. Long-term seasonality does not get any better.

Much more information is available on these indicators in the Quantifiable Edges Market Timing Course. (Get 30% off with the coupon code “November” between now and Monday, 11/5.) Also included in the course are price-based indicators that combine very well with the seasonals, along with possible long-term approaches to utilizing different combinations of price and seasonality. Code, supporting spreadsheets, and access to pages with indicator updates are also included in the course.

 

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Elevated CBI And New SPX Low Carry Bullish Implications

As we approached the close I noted on Twitter (@QuantEdges) that the Quantifiable Edges Capitulative Breadth Index (CBI) was starting to spike. And the closer we got to 4pm EST, the higher it got. At the end of the day, the CBI finished at 10, which is a level I have long considered bullish. The combination of a 10+ CBI and a 50-day closing low is something I have shown in the past to be bullish for both the short and intermediate-term. The study below is taken directly from the CBI Research Paper, which I recommend checking out if you have not read it before, or reviewing some of the tables and charts to get a deeper understanding of market action both during and after such broad, strong, selloffs as we are currently seeing.

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These are very appealing results, from Day 1 right through day 20. And 20 days out there was just one loser and it only lost 0.2%. Meanwhile, the average gain of the other 18 instances was a sizable 5.7%. The CBI is suggesting we are in a bottoming process right now, and that the market is likely to move higher in the coming days and weeks.

Update: Below is the full list of instances along with their 20-day returns for those traders that wish to see the details.

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Why Tuesday’s Strong Reversal Suggests A Short-Term Edge For The Bulls

The market tested its recent lows on Tuesday, and that may have washed out the sellers, at least temporarily. Tuesday did not see a “turnaround” with a higher close, but it did manage to rally strongly off the lows. And the big gap lower, reversal upwards and higher close triggered a few interesting Quantifinder studies. The study below is one example of what I am seeing.  It simply looks for gaps to 50-day lows and partial reversals.

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These numbers are impressive, especially over the 1st couple of days. Below is a look at a 2-day profit curve.

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The move from lower left to upper right serves as some confirmation of the edge implied by the numbers. This suggests the rebound Tuesday was strong enough, and from a low enough level, that there is a good chance the market will continue to rally over the next few days. Short-term traders may want to take this into consideration when establishing their trading bias.

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A Look At How Fridays Create The Most Reliable Bounces

Friday is generally not terribly reliable in being a day where the market bounces from a low. It is one of the least popular days for this to occur (along with Wednesday). But a potential positive about a Friday bounce is that when they do occur, they tend to be the most reliable moving forward. The below tables look at performance following a bounce from a 50-day low. The 1st table looks at performance 1 day later, and the 2nd table looks at performance 5 days later.

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In both cases we see that Friday is the day of the week that that shows the strongest odds moving forward. This is true whether you are looking at Net Profits, % Profitable, Win/Loss Ratio, Profit Factor, or Avg Trade. While Tuesday is the most likely day to see a bounce occur, Friday is the day where that bounce is most likely to stick. We’ll see if the bounce that started this past Friday can stick this week.

 

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Back to Back 50-day Lows and Extremely Low RSI(2) Readings

Strongly oversold markets often contain a short-term upside edge. Of course oversold can always become more oversold. Wednesday took the SPX down to a 50-day closing low. Additionally, many short-term price oscillators, like the RSI(2) showed extremely low readings. Further selling on Thursday meant another 50-day low and even lower readings. The study below appeared in the Quantifinder on Thursday afternoon. It looked at other times the SPX posted back-to-back 50-day lows and extremely low RSI(2) readings.

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Instances are a little lower than I typically like, but the numbers are incredibly bullish and seem worth noting. I am seeing several studies right now all suggesting a bounce is highly likely in the next few days. This study is just one such example.

 

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The Weakest Week – 2018 update

From a seasonality standpoint, there isn’t a more reliable time of the year to have a selloff than this upcoming week. In the past I have referred to is as “The Weakest Week”. Since 1961 the week following the 3rd Friday in September has produced the most bearish results of any week. Below is a graphic to show how this upcoming week has played out over time.

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As you can see the bearish tendency has been pretty consistent over the last 57 years. There was a stretch in the late 80’s where there was a series of mild up years. Since 1990 it has been pretty much all downhill. Below is a table showing results of buying Sept. op-ex Friday and then selling X days later from 1990 – 2017.

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The consistency and net results appear quite strong. I note the only instances that didn’t post a lower close at some point during the following week was in 2001 and 2017. The 9/11 attacks certainly made for unusual circumstances in 2001, and 2017 did not see a decline, but it only rose 2 points, so it was not much of a victory for the bulls.

 

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