Easy and Effective Methods to Measure Relative Performance (video)

A member recently wrote in asking for different ways to measure relative performance. This is a great question because relative performance is a very important piece of the investment puzzle. In addition to looking for stocks and ETFs in uptrends, chartists can improve their odds by looking for stocks and ETFs showing relative strength. StockCharts offers at least three ways to measure relative performance. 

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How Can I Chart the Yield Curve and Compare Treasury Yields?

Chartists can view the difference in Treasury yields using a special overlay on SharpCharts. First, note that we have two symbols that capture the yield curve. $YC2YR captures the difference between the 10-year Treasury Yield and the 2-Year Yield. $YC3MO charts the difference between the 10-year yield and the 3-month yield. Chartists can also use the "price (same scale)" overlay to plot different yields in the same chart window. The chart below shows four different Treasury yields in the main window and the two yield curve indicators in the lower windows. The "price (same scale)" aligns the different yields on the same scale so we can see the differences. The 10-yr and 30-yr yields are above 2%, while the 2-yr and 3-mo yields are below 1%. 

Chartists can also create a custom yield curve by using the minus function on two symbols. The chart below shows the difference between the 30-yr Yield and the 5-yr Yield by placing a minus sign or hyphen between the two symbols ($UST30Y-$UST5Y). This representation of the yield curve is still positive, but it has become less positive over the last twelve months. This means the spread between the 30-yr and 5-yr yields is narrowing. Note that this minus function can be used with any two symbols. 

What is a Bullish Percent Index and How Can I Use It? (video)

A Bullish Percent Index measures the percentage of stocks within a particular group that are on Point & Figure buy signals. A stock is either on a P&F sell signal or a P&F buy signal, there is no gray area here. A P&F sell signal is a Double Bottom Breakdown, which occurs when the current O-Column moves below the low of the prior O-Column. A P&F buy signal is a Double Top Breakout, which occurs when the current X-Column moves above the high of the prior X-Column. The first chart shows Illumina (ILMN) with a Double Top Breakout and the second chart shows Mattel (MAT) with a Double Bottom Breakdown. 

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What is the Difference between a Logarithmic and Arithmetic Chart?

The difference between a logarithmic and arithmetic chart scale can be seen on the vertical axis, which is the y axis. An arithmetic scale shows equal spacing between the chart units. In the example below, horizontal lines are spaced every 5 Dollars and they are equally spaced from top to bottom. A ten Dollar change from 60 to 70 looks the same as a ten Dollar change from 100 to 110. 

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What is the Difference between Adjusted and Unadjusted Data? (video)

First, note that StockCharts users can chart adjusted data and unadjusted data. By default, stock and ETF symbols show adjusted data, which means the data have been adjusted for dividends, splits and other events. When a stock goes ex-dividend, the dividend amount is subtracted from the stock price. StockCharts adjusts the data by adding the dividend back into the stock price, which provides users with a picture of the total return (price change plus dividends). On a total return basis, the Utilities SPDR (XLU) is up some 87% over the last five years. Not bad for old boring utility stocks. 

The price chart shows the dividend adjustments because I added "events" as an "overlay". Putting "all" as a parameter will show dividends, stock splits and all financial events affecting the price. This is a great way to see when a dividend is paid or when a stock split. 

So just how much of a role did dividends play in the total return? Chartists can find out by plotting unadjusted data. Simply precede the symbol with an underscore (_XLU). As the chart shows, unadjusted XLU still sports a nice gain as price appreciated some 53% over the last five years. However, because utility stocks have relatively high yields, the dividend is a very important part of the picture. I would guestimate that dividends accounted for around one third of the total return for XLU over the last five years. 

How Can I Measure the Distance between the Close and a Moving Average? (video)

There are two ways to measure the distance between a price point and a moving average. First, chartists can simply use the "percentage change" tool when annotating a chart. This tool can be found right under the "auto support-resistance" tool. Note that you can hover over any icon with a small triangle in the right corner to reveal other icons. Select the percentage change tool, move to the moving average, click and drag the tool to the price point. The example below shows the percentage change tool extending from the 200-day simple moving average and the 50-day exponential moving average. 

Chartists can also use the Percentage Price Oscillator (PPO) to measure the distance from the close or last price and an exponential moving average. Simply set the PPO to (1,50,1). The first "1" represents a 1-period EMA, which is just the close or last price. The "50" represents the 50-day EMA. The other "1" is for the signal line. Setting the signal line at 1 simply hides it. The PPO measures the percentage difference between two exponential moving averages. In this case, we are measuring the distance between the 1-day EMA and the 50-day EMA, which is around 3.1%. 

What are the Best Ways to Display Breadth Data? (video)

Daily breadth data often looks erratic because it flips from positive to negative on a regular basis. Chartists can turn this erratic data into a readable format using three different chart functions. This article will show how to chart breadth data as a histogram, an AD Line and an oscillator.  

The chart above shows just how erratic AD Percent for the S&P 500 looks as a simple line chart (main window). We can still spot the big moves that exceed +80% and -80%, but it is hard to determine what is happening in between these levels. The solution is to plot this indicator has a histogram. The main plot can be changed to Histogram in the Type section under Chart Attributes. Chartists can also add $SPXADP as an indicator and choose Histogram as the Style. The image below shows examples for these settings.   

Chartists can also plot AD Percent as the AD Line or as a 10-day SMA, which acts as an oscillator. To change raw AD Percent into an AD Line, users can set the chart Type to Cumulative in the Chart Attributes section. The example below shows the AD Line in gray and a 1-period simple moving average as black dots, which make it easy to see the day-to-day moves. The indicator window shows AD Percent as a 10-day SMA. Simply add $SPXADP as an indicator, choose Invisible for Style and then add a simple moving average. 

What is a Bearish Signal Reversed on the Point & Figure Chart? (video)

A bearish signal reversed is a bullish P&F signal that suddenly occurs after a series of lower lows and lower highs. First, a P&F downtrend needs to be present on the chart. Note that X-Columns represent rising prices and O-Columns represent falling prices. A downtrend is present when successive X-Columns fail to exceed the high of the prior X-Column and O-Columns form lower lows. The bearish signal reversed signal occurs when the current X-Column surges above the prior X-Column to reverse this downtrend. 

The chart above shows Vulcan Materials (VMC) with a series of lower lows and lower highs since August, which is marked with the red number 8. Actually, the downtrend has been present since April (red 4) because the X-Columns have not formed a higher high since March (red 3). After making another lower low at 55, the bearish signal reversed with a surge above the prior X-Column. Before leaving this chart, notice that the current X-Column is challenging the bearish resistance line. 

Where Can I Find Symbol Information for Indexes, Market Indicators, Economic Indicators and Futures? (video)

In addition to stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds, StockCharts provides data for hundreds of indexes and market indicators as well as dozens of economic indicators and futures contracts. The index and indicator symbols are prefixed with a Dollar sign or an exclamation point. Examples include $SPX for the S&P 500 or !GT200SPX for the Percentage of $SPX Stocks above their 200-day EMA. Symbols for futures contracts are prefixed with a caret. Examples include ^CLZ14 for December Light Crude and ^GCZ14 for December Gold. Symbols for economic indicators begin with two Dollar signs. Examples include $$CPI for the Consumer Price Index and $$M2 for M2 Money Supply.

So how can I find a list of these symbols? The quickest way is with a search of the symbol catalog. A link to the symbol catalog can be found at the top-right of every webpage. Simply search for $$ to find the economic indicators available or search for ^ to find the futures contracts. 

The index and indicator symbols are a little more complicated because there are so many (literally hundreds). Chartists can search for INDX to see all of these symbols. You can easily refine your search by adding a few required terms. Search for "INDX and Stocks and 200" (without quotation marks) to see all the indicators that use the 200-day moving average. Using "and" means the term is required in the results. 

Users can also learn about our index, market indicator, economic and futures symbols on the symbol documentation page. This page contains over 50 articles explaining the symbol groupings. Here you can learn about the Intellidex Indices, the Morning Star Indices or the S&P Sector/Industry Symbols. 

Which Sentiment Indicators are Available at StockCharts?

With the DecisionPoint merger, StockCharts acquired several sentiment indicators with long histories. Sentiment indicators measure the bullishness or bearishness of a particular group. These indicators are often used as contrarian indicators to identify market extremes. Excessive bullish sentiment is viewed as potentially bearish for the stock market, while excessive bearish sentiment is viewed a potentially bullish. Chartists can plot these indicators separately or plot the difference between bulls and bears. StockCharts provides sentiment data from the American Association of Individual Investors, Investors Intelligence, Wall Street Sentiment and Rydex. The chart below shows some special techniques for charting these indicators. A brief explanation and the symbol pairings for each group can be found below the chart. 

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