Sunday, April 23, 2017

In the 3rd inning of a market cycle advance

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses the trading component of the Trend Model to look for changes in the direction of the main Trend Model signal. A bullish Trend Model signal that gets less bullish is a trading "sell" signal. Conversely, a bearish Trend Model signal that gets less bearish is a trading "buy" signal. The history of actual out-of-sample (not backtested) signals of the trading model are shown by the arrows in the chart below. Past trading of the trading model has shown turnover rates of about 200% per month.

The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Risk-on*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers will also receive email notices of any changes in my trading portfolio.

Market cycles explained
When I first got interested in the stock market (back in the day when we programmed computers with punched cards), I learned the principles of market cycle analysis from a grizzled veteran of technical analysis. Markets are said to move in cycles.

Here is how an idealized cycle works. In the initial phase of an expansion, central banks lower rates to boost the economy, and the market leaders are the interest sensitive stocks. As the cycle matures, leadership rotates into consumer stocks, followed by capacity expansion, which leads to capital goods sector leadership. The late phase of the cycle is characterized by tight capacity and rising inflation, which is an environment where asset plays and commodity extraction industries outperform.

I never forgot that lesson. I also learned that while the market cycles thematically parallel economic cycles, they are different. Market undergo mini-cycles of changes in sentiment whose length are much shorter than economic cycles. Nevertheless, the broad principles of market cycle analysis remain valid today.

In the past few weeks, I have been repeating the message that the intermediate term equity market outlook appears bullish (see Buy the dip! and Buy! The party is still going strongly). There is a growth surge, not only in the US, but around the world. This chart from Callum Thomas of Topdown Charts summarizes the growth outlook perfectly.

In addition, the recent 2-3% pullback saw sentiment tank to bearish extremes, which is contrarian bullish. Last week, oversold markets began to bounce, which is an indication of an inflection point (see Buy signals everywhere). As well, Tom McClellan observed that the 10-day Open ARMS index was also signaling a bottom.

Rather than repeat the same bullish message for another week, I thought that a sector review from a market cycle analytical framework would be a good change of pace. Interestingly, the broad message from this analysis tells the story of a global upturn, and we are roughly only in the third inning of an intermediate term bull phase.

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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