This Is The SP500. This Is The SP500 On Crack

Remember the anti-drug commercials with the frying pan and the egg? As of late it would appear as though investors have forgotten that you are supposed to say NO to drugs, especially during market hours. In the chart below we have a rolling 21-Day Standard Deviation for the SP500 as well as the 50-Day moving average of that number. On a one month basis we are at the second highest reading in over 10 years, second only to the crash of 2008. Looking at the smoothed 50-day moving average we are actually at a new high. The close to close movement is running at an average of 2.34%. (Click on chart to enlarge)

SP500 Rolling 21-Day Standard Deviation

How can you use this information? There are a few trading strategies you can investigate from this such as selling options or putting on some arbitrage positions betting the spreads will come back in. For most investors however the more important thing to see here is that risk management is not only paramount to your investing/trading but it is a moving target. As a general rule when volatility is high, or extremely high as the case may be, you would want to look at using relatively loose stops, scaling down your position sizes, lowering your leverage, raising cash, etc. While most, maybe all, long time traders already use good risk management we have found that far to many new traders don’t adjust their trading when the market gets stoned. Consequently they lose far more money then they have too. Following tools like this can help you to smooth out your returns and stay in the game.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-We always use risk management and own the domain name

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Global Macro Versus The SP500 And The Winner Is…….

Today in the Financial Times there was an article entitled “Macro Funds Miss Out On Crisis” where they show how many macro funds are currently lagging their expected performance so far for 2010.  While it is true that many funds are relatively flat e are surprised that the article had nothing good to say.  We being proponents of Global Macro as not only a strategy but as the best strategy across a full market cycle decided to take it upon ourselves to look at Global Macro against the SP500 from the beginning of the crisis October 2007 to now.

What we find is that while the SP500 is down -24.41% from the beginning of the crisis, the HFRXM Global Macro Index is basically flat at +1.04% for that same time.  In fact if you had invested $1000 in each of the HFRXM and the SP500 on October 1, 2007 your investment in the Global Macro Index would be ahead of the SP500 by 33%.  So while you wold not have huge absolute gains, you would also not have huge absolute losses.

$1,000 Invested In HFRXM and SP500


Of course such comparison offer little real value since the SP500 is a horrible benchmark for a macro trader.  Global macro encompasses stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies so it should be relatively uncorrelated to any one asset class.  What sets global macro apart from other strategies is that it enables the trader to go wherever they see the best opportunities.  Of course just because they have the flexibility does not mean that they will catch every move, but it does allow them the flexibility needed to avoid large losses.

Happy Trading,

Take a $1 trial of The Macro Trader to receive unbiased actionable research

One Not So Bullish Sentiment Indicator

One indicator that we follow is that of the 5-Day Equity Put/Call Ratio.  In fact it was one of the indicators that helped lead us to call for a correction back on January 12th in our post “It’s Time For A Pullback In Stocks”.  A few days later the SP500 started its 9% pullback.

So what is it saying right now?  If you look at the chart below you can see that the reading on the 5-Day Equity Put/Call ratio is at its lowest (most bearish) level in over four years with a reading of .50. This of course coincides with a near new high in the SP500. (Click on chart to enlarge)

SP500 and 5-day Equity Put/Call Ratio


While we aren’t calling for a new correction, we do think that we are likely in for a pullback of sorts before moving higher.  We remain bullish in the medium term as breadth remains strong and many industry groups continue to break out.  While shorting is definitely an option, in light of our longer term outlook we have instead opted to hedge our long exposure with some slightly out of the money options.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-We hold long positions in several industry group ETF’s and puts on the SP500.

Take a $1 trial of The Macro Trader to receive unbiased actionable research.

Charts That Make You Go Hmm…

10-Yr Swap Spreads hit their lowest level since 1988 on 3/9/10 hitting 3.25.  How many more days until they go negative? (Click on chart to enlarge)

10-Yr Swap Spread


Go short Treasuries, its the most obvious trade ever right?  While they might go up or down the MOVE Index continues to forecast less and less volatility, which at least to us indicates that the market is not expecting yields to change a whole lot anytime soon. (Click on chart to enlarge)

MOVE Index


Not sure if Chanos is right on China being in a huge bubble, but looking at the chart it appears as though at least a few investors are less than bullish. (Click on chart to enlarge)



We just crossed the one year anniversary of the current rally/bull market the other day.  Over that time on a weekly closing basis the SP500 is up over 66%.  This has been the largest one year rally in over 60 years.  We are starting to hedge our long exposure as we are currently cautiously bullish. (Click on chart to enlarge)

SP500 1-Yr Rolling Returns


Back in December we shorted the Euro on the basis of the EU being weak, overvalued, and sentiment becoming far too one sided.  In these pages we also looked at buying the USD on a technical basis. Looking at the USD and T-Bills however shows another reason for the USD rally. (Click on chart to enlarge)

US Dollar and T-Bill Yield


Happy Trading,

Take a $1 trial of The Macro Trader to receive unbiased actionable research.

It’s Time For A Pullback In Stocks

After a 72% move higher in the SP500 a lot of bears are saying that the market has gone far enough and that we are due for a new crash that will take us back to and in some cases past the lows of 2008.  While a crash is possible and probably justified we are instead looking for something along the lines of a modest pullback to maybe a 10% correction.

One of our favorite sentiment indicators is that of put/call ratios.  We use the 5-day equity only put call ratio to warn of high risk areas and to point our low risk areas.  As you can see in the chart below we are currently at a reading of .51 which is not only below out “high risk” threshold but is also the lowest reading in over a year.  While the signal could be wrong it is hard to argue that options traders are not overly one sided right now.

5-Day Equity Put/Call Ratio and SP500


In case you want to see more bearish sentiment look no further than the 10-day total put/call ratio.  Anything below .75 is typically considered very bearish and right now we have a reading of .68 which is the lowest reading in two years.  Needless to say this indicator is also showing that option traders are too bullish.

10-Day Total Put/Call Ratio and SP500


One price based indicator that we use at The Macro Trader fairly extensively is what we call a reversion to the mean chart.  Basically it takes a long term reading of the market, normalizes it, and then gives an overbought/oversold reading.  We then plot one and two standard deviation lines above and below the mean.  As you an see in the chart below we are about 1.5 standard deviations above the mean which is significantly higher than we saw for most of the 2002-2007 bull market suggesting that things are a bit overdone.

SP500 RTM Chart


Add to all of this a TD Sequential sell signal a few day ago and how near we are to a 50% retracement of the crash and things look less like a buying opportunity and more like a selling/shorting opportunity.  Again we are not calling for a new low, just a pullback/correction.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-The Macro Trader is short the SPY-Sp500 ETF