Relative Strength

In the many past posts, I have recommended that to be successful in swing trading, one has to be aware of the individual securities relative strength as it compares to some index of its peers.

The following chart is an example of  OIH which is the oil VanEck oil services ETF. I have compared this ETF to SPY, which represents the Standard & Poors 500 index.

 

The prices are as of the close yesterday, January 12, 2021.

The rules are very simple, and the action indicated by the up and down arrows reflects the result of following the rules.

  1. Buy when the target security is stronger, on a relative strength basis than the index.
  2. Buy ONLY when the target is stronger, has positive momentum, and the index is also going up.
  3. Close the position when any condition is violated. Shown by blue vertical lines.
  4. The rules apply to shorting when the actions are the opposite of the buy rules.

Market Timing and Other Examples at Year end 2020

In many past posts, I have tried to illustrate the relative strength of market sectors. The example below is as of year-end 2020.

In my previous post on Market Timing in early December, the illustration below shows that the market trend as portrayed by the ETF “SPY” is still intact. Prices as of the close on December 31, 2020

I am also showing below, another example of relative strength with positive momentum is APPL versus QQQ.

 

The rules in this example are pretty straightforward. Only buy APPL when it is outperforming QQQ AND QQQ is also in an uptrend.

The green arrows show these events. There are many different strategies that can be developed based on these events occurring.

Market Timing Signal

Most investors find that timing the market, which is trying to determine whether to be invested or not, is not something that is within reach.

My experience tells me that not only is it possible, but it is also very important in these volatile times.

The ‘market’ can be illustrated by looking at the performance of the S& P 500 index, which comprises a good section of the United States economy.

The above graph shows the S&P 500 index, ETF: SPY, as of the close on Friday, December 4, 2020. It shows that there was a significant decline beginning at the end of February 2020 with a nice recovery starting in April 2020. It would have been ideal to find some way of getting out of the way of the decline and getting on the right path in April.

There is that kind of early, or at least not so late way, of doing just that!

In the past, which is certainly no predictor of future behavior, the movement of the U.S. Treasury note and bond market, has behaved in an almost opposite manner to the equity market. The avoidance of equity risk has shifted the money flow into the safe haven of U.S. Treasuries and vice versa. In the past then, the equity market has been negatively correlated to the Treasury market. So, when equities are getting strong, Treasuries should be getting weaker, etc.

I have chosen an ETF which is a good indicator of the U.S Treasury market: EDV, the Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury ETF.

Prices reflect the close of December 4, 2020.

 

The following chart shows the relationship between the price movement of SPY and EDV during the period of February 2020t to the close of Friday, December 4, 2020.

SPY is represented by the green line and EDV is represented by the red line in section three of the graph.

The next line shows the relative strength of SPY versus EDV. Green shows that SPY is stronger, Red shows that it is weaker.

The same is true on the bottom part of the illustration. The cross indicator on the individual ETFs show positive or negative momentum of the individual ETF.

 

The answer then is that one could make a market timing decision by watching the relative strength between equities (SPY) and Treasuries (EDV) and act accordingly. Purchase the equity market when it is in a positive relative strength to the Treasury market, which is represented by the Green vertical lines. Stay on the sidelines when it appears that the Treasury market is stronger than the equity market, the Red lines.